Tunguska Event: the mystery that puzzled scientists for almost 100 years
A huge mysterious blast rocked eastern Siberia on this day, June 30, 1908, leaving millions of trees lying on the ground, mostly pointing in the same direction, over an area of many kilometres.
The reports describe a fireball in the sky, like a second sun, and a series of explosions “with a frightful sound,” followed by shaking of the ground as “the earth seemed to get opened wide, and everything would fall in the abyss.” The indigenous Evenks and Yakuts believed a god or shaman sent the fireball to destroy the world. Various meteorological stations in Europe recorded both seismic and atmospheric waves. Days later, strange phenomena were observed in the sky of Russia and Europe, like glowing clouds, colorful sunsets, and a weak luminescence in the night.
International newspapers speculated about a volcanic eruption. However, at the time It was a difficult area to reach, and it was not until 1927, nearly 20 years later, that the first Soviet research expedition arrived at the scene: they found millions of fallen trees and evidence that a huge number of reindeer had been killed.
The first conclusion was that a meteor had struck, though scientists were baffled by the absence of a crater.
Over the years, a number of more or less fanciful theories were put forward to explain what became known as the Tunguska Event, the explosion that occurred around Siberia’s Podkamennaya Tunguska River in what is now Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia.
Engineer and sci-fi writer Aleksander Kasantsews developed an unusual explanation in the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He argued that a nuclear explosion, equivalent to 1,000 Hiroshima bombs, of possible extraterrestrial origin caused the Tunguska blast, as either a UFO crashed in Siberia or an interplanetary weapon was detonated there for unknown reasons. In 1973, American physicists proposed that a small black hole collided with our planet, causing a matter-antimatter explosion in Earth’s atmosphere.
However, today scientists believe they know the answer: It is thought that an incoming meteor or comet exploded on contact with our atmosphere, causing what is known as an air burst five to ten kilometers above the Earth’s surface, and It released enough energy to devastate any lifeform in the area – including all those trees.
But that’s just the theory and nobody knows for sure.
More than a hundred years after the event, only sparse clues survive. Trees have recolonized the devastated area and on the ground only a few stumps of trees killed by the explosion can be found, most already rotten away or buried in the swamp.