One hundred years ago, the Tunguska event, a massive explosion, occurred on June 30, 1908 in a sparsely populated area near the Podkamennaya Tuguska River of Siberia. On that day, a ball of fire exploded 6 miles above the ground, releasing 15 megatons of energy and decimated 770 square miles of forest. For the next century, a number of teams of scientists would study the area, searching for clues as to what happened on that momentous day in history. A number of theories arose after it occurred, including UFO rumors.
A number of eyewitness account of the event surfaced after it occurred in the early morning hours of that day. Some observers saw what looked like a bluish light move across the sky. Minutes after the appearance of the light, a flash takes place and a boom could be heard. The sound was followed by a shock wave, sweeping people off their feet and breaking windows. Although the stories vary, the sound and the movement of the ground stay pretty consistent.
The explosion was so strong that the affects were recordable on seismic stations across Europe and Asia and fluctuations in atmospheric pressure could be felt as far away as Great Britain. The night sky glowed so brightly that people could read in the light produced from the dust in the atmosphere.
Scientists began converging on the area in the 1920s, combing the region to find some evidence to figure out what happened. A Russian expedition surveyed the area around Lake Cheko for a number of years, examining sediments on the lake’s bottom. After the examination of the area was finally completed, they deduced that the lake was formed several centuries before the 1908 explosion. After a number of searches, no one was able to recover fragments of rocks from an asteroid or a comet that could explain the unusual event.
Recently, a team of Italian scientists studied the bottom of the Lake Cheko using acoustic imagery, approximately 5 miles north of the suspected area of impact. Geologist Luca Gasperini led the team who studied the area. They searched for space materials that may have gotten trapped in the mud at the bottom of the basin. They outlined the basin and took samples of materials for further study. He deduced that the shape of the basin and the samples extracted indicate the possibility of an impact crater.
Lake Cheko didn’t have some of the same characteristics of other areas affected by impact craters, lacking a rim of debris. Unlike other areas that are round and deep due to impact, the lake was funnel shaped and shallow. Unlike the Russian who believe the lake was formed from an impact that occurred before the Tunguska event, Gasperini and his team concluded that the odd shape of the basin was a result of fragments from the explosion. He said that there was a soft crash in the basin area.
No matter what new evidence is unearthed in this area, individuals will likely continue to draw their own conclusion about the morning fire fell out of the sky.