Tunguska Event: Meteorite Fragments Found?

In 1908 a massive explosion occurred in Tunguska, Siberia, with 1,000 times the power of the Hiroshima bomb. Now a Russian scientist claims to have found a piece of the puzzle to the occurrence called the Tunguska Event.

A number of theories have been proposed as to what caused the Tunguska Event, the most popular being that a large comet or asteroid caused the destruction. The new evidence comes from Andrei E. Zlobin of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Vernadsky State Geological Museum, who claims to have collected over 100 stones from the site that look like meteorites.

Zlobin originally collected the meteorites from the Tunguska Event impact site in 1988. In 2008, Zlobin revisited the collection and singled out three particularly intriguing rocks, naming them "whale," "dental crown" and "boat" because of their appearances.

The rocks from the Tunguska Event site could be meteorites for a number of reasons. One is that they exhibit signs of melting and small surface indentations, called regmaglypts, that sometimes appear when a space rock enters Earth's atmosphere. Zlobin believes the rocks at the Tunguska Event site originated from elsewhere since, according to his findings, an Earth-generated explosion would not have been sufficient to deform them in that manner.

Chemical analysis will still be required, however, to determine if the rocks from the Tunguska Event are in fact meteorites. There are also questions as to why Zlobin waited to publish his findings.

"It's not hard to imagine that the political changes that engulfed the Soviet Union in the year after his expedition may have played a role in this, but it still requires some explaining," states a May 2 blog post from the website arXiv.org that details the results.

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