The Tunguska Catastrophe

I had never ever heard of the name Tunguska before... until I bought a PC game (for the kids) called Secret files: Tunguska. Then I became enlightened to an extremely fascinating and equally mysterious event which occurred 101 years ago in Central Siberia.

In the Tunguska region at 7:17am on 30 June 1908 something of apocalyptic proportions occurred. This ‘happening’ flattened an estimated 80 million trees over an area of 2,000 square km. The blast (if that was what it was) was 1,000 times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and generated a shock wave that knocked people unconscious 60km from the epicentre. In the following weeks, night skies over Europe and western Russia glowed brightly enough for people to read by. Mysteriously, there was no crater or any other clear evidence for what exploded.

The first report of the explosion was in the Irkutsk paper dated July 2, 1908, published two days after the explosion:

The peasants saw a body shining very brightly (too bright for the naked eye) with a bluish-white light... The body was in the form of 'a pipe', i.e. cylindrical. The sky was cloudless, except that low down on the horizon, in the direction in which this glowing body was observed, a small dark cloud was noticed. It was hot and dry and when the shining body approached the ground (which was covered with forest at this point) it seemed to be pulverized, and in its place a loud crash, not like thunder, but as if from the fall of large stones or from gunfire was heard. All the buildings shook and at the same time a forked tongue of flames broke through the cloud. All the inhabitants of the village ran out into the street in panic. The old women wept, everyone thought that the end of the world was approaching.

S.B. Semenov, an eyewitness in the village of Vanovara about 60 km south of the explosion site, gave the following report...

I was sitting in the porch of the house at the trading station of Vanovara at breakfast time... when suddenly the sky was split in two and high above the forest the whole northern part of the sky appeared to be covered with fire. At that moment I felt great heat as if my shirt had caught fire; this heat came from the north side. I wanted to pull off my shirt and throw it away, but at that moment there was a bang in the sky, and a mighty crash was heard. I was thrown to the ground... and for a moment I lost consciousness... The crash was followed by noise like stones falling from the sky, or guns firing. The earth trembled, and when I lay on the ground I covered my head because I was afraid that stones might hit it.

The most accepted explanations as to what caused the Tunguska event are:

  • A fragmentary asteroid or meteorite that exploded in the atmosphere.

  • The nucleus of a comet that likewise exploded in the atmosphere.

  • But I ask you, could a comet cause the following enigmatic effects that were recorded at the site?

  • disturbances in the Earth's magnetic field.

  • a local geomagnetic storm.

  • a reversal of soil magnetization.

  • an electromagnetic pulse, similar to what would be created by a nuclear explosion.

  • aurora displays before and after the event.

  • unusually bright nights seen before and after the event.

  • genetic mutations in plants and animals.

  • accelerated growth of plants afterward.

  • radiation-like burns and deaths of exposed people.

  • Not surprisingly there are many learned people who disagree with the 'accepted' explanation. Among the more 'exotic’ theories are…

  • An unusual tectonic event.

  • A massive methane gas explosion.
  • A black hole that entered the Earth's atmosphere from outer space and imploded.

  • A chunk of antimatter that reacted with the matter of our planet.

  • A crashed UFO.

  • A deliberate attack by extraterrestrials.

  • The result of a test of Nikola Tesla's wireless power transmitter.

  • I agree that most of the theories listed above sound utterly ridiculous... but the event itself simply cannot be adequately explained using natural reasoning. Even now, 101 years later Russian scientists are still struggling to get a clearer understanding of what really happened that day.

    What is disturbing is that if the Tunguska event occurred 4 hours and 47 seconds later, it would have hit the Russian Capitol.

    (For an intriguing look at the Nikola Tesla hypothesis click here.)


    Kate said...

    That there is an interesting blog! Hmm..the world is a strange mystery of epic proportions. (That sounded like an intelligent line. Epic is a good word, you may use it.)

    PaisleyJade said...

    Interesting... very interesting.

    Rachel Kate said...

    lol kate :P
    ahhh mysteries - they make the world a better place... sounds like a kewl comp game too!

    sewfunky said...

    interesting indeed.