Science X-Files

The Tunguska Event: An Intriguing Challenge For Modern Science

Do you remember the superbly famous and must-watch-television-series of its time The X files? You were not required to be a sci-fi buff to like it. In fact, every genre, every age and almost every individual which saw it liked it. And, believed it! However, a recent research has ensured that one of the series, which included a real life event, has been portrayed in a different way as enunciated by the researchers of the present!

Which was the event?

The event was the one which occurred at one of the remotest areas. It was back then called the Tunguska Event. No humans were killed in this event, was a respite. The most significant aspect of this event was that it flattened 770 square miles of Siberian forest that day. The location was in close vicinity of the Stony Tunguska River, Russia.

To witnesses, it appeared like Armageddon. One, 65 km away, was thrown from his chair by the heat blast. ‘Suddenly…the sky was split in two, and high above the forest the whole northern part of the sky appeared covered with fire… at that moment there was a bang in the sky and a mighty crash. The crash was followed by a noise like stones falling from the sky, or of guns firing. The earth trembled.’

The Tunguska Event: An Intriguing Challenge For Modern Science

The Tunguska Event: An Intriguing Challenge For Modern ScienceSome 2,000 square km (770 square miles) of forest was flattened, around 80 million trees. Pictures: The Siberian Times, Leonid Kulik

When did it occur?

The event dates back to the morning of June 30, 1908. Till date it has been reported as the largest impact event on the Earth.

What followed the event?

Almost 1000 scholarly papers have been published centering on the Tunguska explosion. It was reported early on as a meteorite falling to earth in Krasnoyarsk region, while foreign newspapers speculated on a volcanic eruption or even a UFO. No shortage of other explanations emerged:  a comet made of ice not rock that evaporated in the atmosphere; local Evanki people believed a visitation by the god Ogdy was responsible; some scientists claimed a black hole had collided with Earth; other sources asserted friendly aliens had shot down a meteorite that could have destroyed the planet.

The Tunguska Event: An Intriguing Challenge For Modern Science

The Tunguska Event: An Intriguing Challenge For Modern Science

The Tunguska Event: An Intriguing Challenge For Modern ScienceTraces of Tunguska event can be seen even now. Pictures: The Siberian Times, Tunguska Page of Bologna University

What did the series The X Files showed with respect to the same?

The episode as telecasted in the series showed the Agent Fox Mulder analyzing fossilized alien bacteria. This was found from a meteorite fragment, which was supposed to be tied to the Tunguska event.

However, in the real world, a renowned explanation is following:  a large meteor when collided with the atmosphere of the Earth ensured a powerful burst of air. This unknown object flattened the forest, it was thought that the Lake Cheko which was in the close vicinity was fabricated by the impact crater which resulted due to the meteorite.

inside_map_1The Tunguska Event: An Intriguing Challenge For Modern ScienceMorphobathymetric map of the Lake Cheko obtained by Tunguska99 survey data over an aerial photograph collected during TUNGUSKA99 expedition. Picture: Luca Gasperini et al.

What have been the recent researches?

The Russian researchers took the samples of the sediment. Now, this sediment was that at the bottom of the deepest part of the lake. It was then that a very pertinent result came out- they were almost 280 years old. Thus instigating to the fact that there was doubt on the formation of the lake that day, when the meteorite impact happened! The entire findings have been reported in the Russian Geographical Society.

This implies that Lake Cheko was not a part of the impact. And, undoubtedly it has deepened the Tunguska mystery.

The Tunguska Event: An Intriguing Challenge For Modern Science

The Tunguska Event: An Intriguing Challenge For Modern ScienceAn earlier 1961 investigation of the lake by Soviet scientists had dismissed a modern origin of Lake Cheko, arguing the presence of thick silt deposits in the lake's bed suggested an age of at least 5,000 years.

Has there been any report of other powerful bursts?

A powerful burst of lesser impact blew out the windows in the city of Chelyabinsk, Russia. This happened back in the year 2013. The collision happened with the atmosphere, which resulted in the meteorite to taking place at the bottom of a lake in close vicinity.

However, as the researches have put forward, it seems that the more devastating Tunguska Event did not leave any impact crater.

So, indeed the tools utilized today, the intelligence of the researchers and the techniques used have the ability to bring out the truth! However, yet again the extent of the same depends on the situation and circumstances.

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