Researchers claim reexamination of rock samples confirms meteoritic origin of Tunguska cosmic body

Jun 12, 2013 by Bob Yirka weblog
Researchers claim reexamination of rock samples confirms meteoritic origin of Tunguska cosmic body
SEM images of the Tunguska diamond-lonsdaleite-graphite intergrowths with natural rounded surface. Credit: Planetary and Space Science, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pss.2013.05.003

(Phys.org) —A team of researchers with members from the U.S., Germany and Ukraine is claiming in a paper they've had published in the journal Planetary and Space Science, that they have found evidence to prove the Tunguska event was caused by a meteor that exploded in the atmosphere above the Russian plain.

The was, of course, an explosion that occurred in a remote part of Siberia in 1908. Most scientists agree that it was caused by either a meteor or comet strike, and as such, was the largest to ever strike our planet in recorded history. The blast flattened thousands of acres of and led to numerous research efforts to determine its cause. Due to the immense power of the blast however, no physical evidence of the source of the blast has ever been found. Now, however, the researchers in this new effort claim they have found proof that some rocks found by a Ukrainian scientist back in 1978 are remnants of the meteor that caused the massive explosion.

The were found in a bog by Mykola Kovalyukh near the epicenter of the explosion—he claimed at the time that his samples offered proof that the explosion was caused by a meteor. Critics dismissed his claims however, because the rock samples contained too little iridium.

Picking up where Kovalyukh left off, the new team working in the Ukraine used more modern tools to reexamine the stone samples. They claim that has revealed finely veined iron-based minerals that include schreibersite, troilite and taenite, an iron–nickel alloy. They say the patterns and amounts of the materials in the rock samples are very similar to other known and thus, it is a near certainty that the samples found in the bog came from a meteor as well.

Despite the team's claims that they have identified the cosmic body that caused the , there is still one big problem—though they may have proved the rock samples they examined are in fact remnants of a meteor, they have no proof that the sample rocks came from the same meteor that caused the . Because Kovalyukh didn't collect peat samples from the bog where the rocks were found (to provide a means of dating) there is no way to prove that the sample rocks—meteor remnants—didn't land in the bog sometime after the explosion.

Explore further: Twin fools NASA at brother's launch on one-year flight

More information: New evidence of meteoritic origin of the Tunguska cosmic body, Planetary and Space Science, dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pss.2013.05.003

via Nature News

Related Stories

Tunguska, 1908: Russia's greatest cosmic mystery

Feb 15, 2013

The stunning burning-up of a meteor over Russia on Friday that unleashed a shockwave injuring hundreds of people appears to be the country's most dramatic cosmic experience since the historic Tunguska Event ...

Sky fall: Meteorites strike Earth every few months

Feb 15, 2013

(AP)—A meteor exploded in the sky above Russia's Ural Mountains on Friday, causing a shockwave that blew out countless windows and injured hundreds of people with flying glass. Here's a look at those objects ...

Recommended for you

Total lunar eclipse before dawn on April 4th

9 hours ago

An unusually brief total eclipse of the Moon will be visible before dawn this Saturday, April 4th, from western North America. The eclipse happens on Saturday evening for Australia and East Asia.

Cassini: Return to Rhea

22 hours ago

After a couple of years in high-inclination orbits that limited its ability to encounter Saturn's moons, NASA's Cassini spacecraft returned to Saturn's equatorial plane in March 2015.

Comet dust—planet Mercury's 'invisible paint'

Mar 30, 2015

A team of scientists has a new explanation for the planet Mercury's dark, barely reflective surface. In a paper published in Nature Geoscience, the researchers suggest that a steady dusting of carbon from p ...

It's 'full spin ahead' for NASA soil moisture mapper

Mar 30, 2015

The 20-foot (6-meter) "golden lasso" reflector antenna atop NASA's new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory is now ready to wrangle up high-resolution global soil moisture data, following the successful ...

What drives the solar cycle?

Mar 30, 2015

You can be thankful that we bask in the glow of a relatively placid star. Currently about halfway along its 10 billion year career on the Main Sequence, our sun fuses hydrogen into helium in a battle against ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Sinister1811
1 / 5 (4) Jun 13, 2013
I thought it might've been a meteorite. They say that the force of the explosion was more than that of an atomic bomb. Must've contained some explosive elements.

In other weird news, a Chinese plane was forced to make an emergency landing after hitting a mystery object:
http://www.dailym...-newsxml

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.