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Scientists scour Tunguska for 'cosmic matter'

Posted on Friday, 28 February, 2020 | Comment icon 10 comments

The Tunguska explosion proved devastating. Image Credit: PD - Leonid Kulik
Efforts are underway to prove once and for all that the 1908 Tunguska explosion was caused by a meteor.
Few natural disasters in the 20th Century have generated as much discussion and debate as the massive explosion that occurred in Tunguska, Siberia 112 years ago - an event so destructive that it managed to flatten more than 80 million trees over a 2,000-square-kilometer area.

Fortunately the disaster happened in a sparsely populated region and aside from one deer herder who was allegedly killed by the force of the blast, there were no other reported casualties.

Exactly what was responsible for the explosion however has long remained a topic of heated debate, with some shunning the conventional meteor theory in favor of other explanations such as a volcanic eruption, a comet impact or even extraterrestrial intervention.

Now in a renewed bid to solve the mystery, Russian scientists are combing Siberia's remote Lake Zapovednoye in search of 'cosmic matter' that would help to prove that a meteor was involved.
"The mystery of the Tunguska catastrophe anxieties both of those researchers and the public," said biologist Dr Arthur Meidus, deputy director of a nearby nature reserve.

"We discovered a distinguishing light-coloured layer in sediments of Lake Zapovednoye."

The next step will be to analyze the material for signs of micro-particles related to the explosion.

"The meteorite is not here as a physical body but the traces of the extremely powerful explosion are, which is what is currently studied by researchers," said Dr Meidus.

"Many of us still hope to unravel the scenario of 1908 disaster."

Source: | Comments (10)

Tags: Tunguska

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by aztek on 28 February, 2020, 16:55
nikola tesla had a different opinion
Comment icon #2 Posted by Seti42 on 28 February, 2020, 17:52
Most likely, it was a meteor or comet. But even literal tons of definitive proof won't sway some people. It's a fascinating incident, though. I like reading about it, and I like sci-fi/fantasy/horror speculative fiction that incorporates it into its mythos. Hellboy, for example.
Comment icon #3 Posted by jethrofloyd on 28 February, 2020, 18:33
But there was no impact crater, or in fact, any meteoric remnants at all?  
Comment icon #4 Posted by Robotic Jew on 28 February, 2020, 18:42
I like the theory that it's holy ground and an immortal was beheaded there. 
Comment icon #5 Posted by Seti42 on 28 February, 2020, 18:55
An airburst likely wouldn't leave an impact crater but would flatten acres of forest in a blast pattern...Which is what happened. Also, if whatever it was (meteor or comet) essentially evaporated, there'd be a fine sprinkling of dust over a wide area, no big chunks.
Comment icon #6 Posted by aztek on 28 February, 2020, 20:36
you are right, decades of search by soviet scientists came out empty,  not a trace of anything foreign found,  yet some still  believe there is something there, lol
Comment icon #7 Posted by NCC1701 on 29 February, 2020, 14:14
Recently there was an article on universetoday about meteors with a speed that is a fraction of the speed of light (Sub-Relativistic Meteors). The energy involved is so great that only a small meteor could be responsible for a enormous blast. Possibly this could have happened in Tunguska. The meteorite vapourises completely when it hits the atmosphere.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Eldorado on 29 February, 2020, 16:06
Here it is: And some research: "Observational Signatures of Sub-Relativistic Meteors" At Cornell Uni:
Comment icon #9 Posted by skookum on 1 March, 2020, 9:53
Nature quickly covers up impacts craters. The first expedition wasn't until 2 decades after the event and the area was treacherous swamps.  It would have needed to be something of considerable size for them to recover it. There probably are lots of fragments of meteor still there but buried under over a 100 years of regrowth of vegetation. Fortunately the area was so remote casualties were almost non existent. However that has created its own issues as it is unknown if the lake was there before or after the event.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Myles on 2 March, 2020, 13:00
Didn't many people report a "fireball" streaking across the sky?   That tells me it was an asteroid that probably exploded a few miles in the sky.   

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