Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 12:34 EDT

Rock Fragments Could Determine Cause Of 1908 Tunguska Event

May 5, 2013
Image Credit: Andrei E. Zlobin

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online

A Russian scientist has reportedly found meteorite or asteroid fragments potentially linked to a mysterious explosion that took place over Siberia more than 100 years ago.

The Tunguska Event, as it is called, took place in June 1908. It featured a blast that was one thousand times more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb and decimated approximately 80 million trees over an 800 square mile area, but resulted in only a single confirmed death, according to various reports.

According to Steve Nolan of the Daily Mail, many people believe that the explosion was caused by an asteroid or comet that broke up as it entered the planet´s atmosphere. However, no evidence was found to support that theory, and there were few eyewitnesses to the occurrence.

Then on Friday, Andrei Zlobin from the Russian Academy of Sciences came forward with a bombshell announcement. Zlobin said that he had found three rocks in the Tunguska regions that where characteristic of meteorites, the Physics arXiv Blog at MIT Technology Review explained, and if his claims turn out to be true, it could finally solve the mystery of what exactly caused the explosion all those years ago.

The Physics arXiv Blog reports that Zlobin said he discovered the meteorite fragments among approximately 100 specimens obtained from the Khusmo River during an expedition back to 1988. For reasons unknown, he waited two decades to explore his findings.

In 2008, he found the three stones which had “clear evidence of melting and regmalypts, thumblike impressions found on the surface of meteorites which are caused by ablation as the hot rock falls through the atmosphere at high speed.”

“Zlobin and others have used tree ring evidence to estimate the temperatures that the blast created on the ground and says that these were not high enough to melt rocks on the surface. However, the fireball in the Earth´s atmosphere would have been hot enough for this. So Zlobin concludes that the rocks must be fragments of whatever body collided with Earth that day,” they said, adding that the researcher has not ruled out conducting a detailed chemical analysis of the rocks in order to learn more about their chemical and isotopic composition.

Zloban has nicknamed the rocks ‘dental crown’, ‘whale’ and ‘boat’, Nolan said, while the Physics arXiv Blog authors noted that the Russian explorer´s findings could potentially help solve one of the great lasting mysteries of the 20th century — answering the question, exactly what was it that caused the largest impact in the history of the Earth. Zloban´s paper, Discovery of Probably Tunguska Meteorites at the Bottom of Khushmo River´s Shoal, has been published at the website arXiv.org.

Source: redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online