Science & Technology
Fresh doubts cast on Tunguska impact theory
January 21, 2017 | 22 comments
The explosion caused large amounts of damage. Image Credit: PD - Leonid Kulik
Russian scientists have found evidence to suggest that the impact crater may predate the event itself.
Few natural disasters in the 20th century have generated as much discussion and debate as the massive explosion that occurred in Tunguska, Siberia 109 years ago - an event so destructive that it managed to flatten more than 80 million trees over a 2,000-square-kilometer area.
Scientists generally agree that the most likely cause of the explosion was a comet or asteroid however a distinct lack of physical evidence over the years save for a few traces of meteoric fragments has made it difficult to know for sure exactly what happened.
Now though, a team of Russian scientists from Krasnoyarsk and Novosibirsk have cast further doubt on the impact theory by analyzing sediment samples from Lake Cheko - a body of water that is believed to have formed within the impact crater left behind at the site of the Tunguska event.
It had been generally believed that the lake had not existed at all prior to 1908, but when the team took a closer look at the samples they found that it was actually much older than that.
"The study showed that the deepest sample is about 280 years old, which means that the lake is probably even older, because the researchers did not manage to obtain samples from the very bottom," The Russian Geographical Society wrote in a press release.
"Nevertheless, this proves that Lake Cheko is much older than the Tunguska event and is not an impact crater of a supposed Tunguska meteorite impact."
So if the Tunguska event was not caused by an impact from space, what could it have been ?
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