October 22, 2015 at 2:39 am

Tunguska: The Great Siberian Thunderbolt – Part 4

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Photographer Matt Molloy : “Timestacks”

Previous articles in this series

Tunguska: The Great Siberian Thunderbolt 1-3

I concluded last article on the great Tunguska Event by presenting preliminary information about the extraordinary optical phenomenon in the atmosphere with which it was associated. All over northern Eurasia in the days following the mighty blast the sky showed forth a striking spectacle of brilliantly colorful sunsets and silvery glows that lasted throughout the night. For several days there was, in effect, “no night at all.” Of course, at that time no one in Europe made the connection between the unusual aerial displays and the explosion in Eastern Siberia, since, as I have explained, the outside world did not learn of it for almost twenty years, until the heroic work of Leonid Kulik.

What could have been the cause of these nights without darkness over much of Europe and Asia in the aftermath of the Tunguska Cosmic Event? I will come back to that question later.

If you have read the previous three articles in this series The Great Siberian Thunderbolt, you know that for many eyewitnesses relatively close to the brilliant body as it passed through the atmosphere it appeared to be brighter than the Sun. We also know that at the final stage of its atmospheric passage, its trajectory was generally from southeast to northwest. This meant that since it was early morning on June 30 it would have come from the general direction of the rising Sun. Many eyewitnesses saw it as coming out of the Sun, or even as a second Sun in the sky. As an example, a letter sent to either Kulik or his associate E. L. Krinov by a villager named of Goloshchekin, a resident of the village of Kamenskoye, about 370 miles from the blast site, described his impressions and that of other villagers as the celestial object passed over. He states that it appeared to be “…an elongated body narrowing towards one end . . . torn as it were from the Sun; its head was bright as the Sun but the remainder was duller.” This phenomenon was accompanied by a sound described as “subterranean thunder” that shook the ground, the buildings and the people.

There are many extraordinary facets to this mind blowing story, which would require far more pages than available here. I have discussed the powerful blast induced pressure wave that encircled the entire planet twice and was registered on newly installed barographs in England. I have discussed the seismic effects, the shaking of the earth and buildings experience by people. The timing of the Tunguska event from the perspective of our technical capabilities is quite interesting. The great astronomer and comet expert Fred Whipple (1906 – 2004), who worked with Harvard College Observatory for 70 years, was one of the first American astronomers to turn his attention to it. In 1930 he wrote, in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, that

“There are many marvelous features in the story of the Siberian meteor, a story without parallel in historic times. It is most remarkable that such an event should occur in our generation and yet be so nearly ignored. No civilized man sought out the falling place of the meteor for twenty years, and even now no one has followed up the track of the pioneer.”

Whipple then goes on to note the auspicious timing of the great meteorite fall.

“This paper has been devoted to incidental effects and it is therefore appropriate to emphasize two coincidences. Seismographs were in readiness to demonstrate that earth waves can be produced by the impact of a meteor with the ground. Microbarographs had been invented just in time to preserve records of the air waves generated in the atmosphere. If the meteor had fallen even five years earlier there would have been no evidence for the spreading of the air waves beyond the immediate locality of the fall; if it had fallen twenty years earlier we should have known nothing of the earth waves.”

It goes without saying that our knowledge and understanding of this great event would be considerably diminished if we had no data on the atmospheric and seismic effects associated with it. It is indeed fortunate for science that the Tunguska Cosmic Object waited until early in the Twentieth Century before arriving.

Something else occurred which is worthy of attention, something which assumes a considerable degree of significance in light of certain factors associated with the Holy Grail symbolism as I discussed previous articles on this web site.

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In May, 2014 I wrote “The fractures and fault lines in the Earth’s crust provide conduits for the circulation of water throughout the crust, water that is infused with exotic materials and substances brought to Earth by incoming cosmic delivery vehicles.” The previous month, in summarizing elements of the Holy Grail symbolism, I wrote that the extensive network of impact induced fractures in the Earth’s crust “allows for the circulation of subterranean waters and the dispersion of the celestial products of impact throughout the lithosphere, the hydrosphere, and, ultimately the biosphere.”

Keep this idea in mind as you read this extract from a letter to Kulik from the geologist Sobolev, with the Krasnoyarsk Museum, a letter I quoted from earlier in the Siberian Thunderbolt, part 1, June, 2014.

“…In the flattened forest at one spot a pit was formed from which a stream flowed into the River Chambé. The Tunguska road had previously crossed this place, but it was now abandoned because it was blocked, impassable, and more over the place aroused terror among the Tungusi people.”

A pit was formed from which a stream flowed. Krinov, in whose book Giant Meteorites this letter was published, was motivated to elaborate upon this striking phenomenon.

“…the extensive network of impact induced fractures in the Earth’s crust “allows for the circulation of subterranean waters and the dispersion of the celestial products of impact throughout the lithosphere, the hydrosphere, and, ultimately the biosphere.”

“The report of the Evenok Il’ya Potapovich about the stream deserves mention. A stream Churgima actually flows from the place of the fall…this stream is of very ancient origin, as may be judged from its deeply carved-out bed in the cliffs, and at one point it has formed a great waterfall. One theory is that when the meteorite fell a stream was formed as the result of the liberation of subterranean waters that had been under pressure . . . here is another possible assumption, namely that the ancient stream Churgima mentioned above did not exist when the meteorite fell, but its dried-up river-bed had been preserved. When the meteorite fell and opened up underground water, the old stream-bed was again filled with water, and a new stream was formed.”

So it appears that the Tunguska object exploded over a region where there was subterranean water under pressure and this water was released as a consequence of the blast. But there is something quite extraordinary about the site itself over which the great meteor exploded, which has actually led to the formation of a theory of terrestrial origin for the explosion. I do not agree with this idea of causation but it does underscore some extremely interesting possibilities. In 2003, Russian scientist Andrei Yu Ol’khovatov published The Tectonic Interpretation of the 1908 Tunguska Event. In this article he presented his theory that the explosion originated from within the Earth.

“From the geological aspect, the Tunguska event occurred in a rather remarkable place in the southern part of the Siberian platform. It was the place of some of the most powerful volcanic activity in Earth’s history 250 million years ago, a former “hotspot”. The area is rich in various gas/oil and ore deposits, including rare earth elements, and platinoids. There are kimberlites in the region too. The upper mantle in this region has anomalous speeds of seismic waves. The Tunguska epicenter is right in the middle of the paleovolcano crater.”

Perhaps if Ol’khovatov had pondered some of the cutting edge ideas for the formation of terrestrial “hotspots” and their associated “large igneous provinces” as they are called by geologists, he may have remained open to the idea of a celestial origin. The paleovolcano over which the Tunguska object exploded was the source of the vast “Siberian Traps”, a huge upwelling and outflow of flood basalts that buried some 950 thousand square miles of land under perhaps 700 thousand cubic miles of basalt, probably the largest such outflowing in the history of the Earth. This mighty eruption occurred about 250 million years ago and was contemporaneous with the largest mass extinction event in the history of life on Earth, the so-called “Great Dying” that occurred at the Permian-Triassic boundary which saw the total destruction of over 90 percent of all Earth’s species.

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Now here is where it gets interesting. The work of geologist Adrian P. Jones and his colleagues (Jones, et al. Impact induced melting and the development of large igneous provinces. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, vol. 202, 2002, p. 551-561) strongly suggests that some of the upwelling mantle plumes responsible for the formation of large igneous provinces are caused by impacts of giant asteroids and comets. In the case of such an impact substantial amounts of crustal material are removed along with massive melting. This release of pressure is called decompression melting. The material deep in the Earth’s mantle is molten and the removal of large amounts of overlying rock allows the upwelling of this molten material, which can then continue for millions of years as the great wound slowly heals itself.

"Plato Putorana 03" by jxandreani - Flickr.com - image description page. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Plato_Putorana_03.jpg#/media/File:Plato_Putorana_03.jpg

“Plato Putorana 03” by jxandreani – Flickr.com – image description page. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Plato_Putorana_03.jpg#/media/File:Plato_Putorana_03.jpg

Much more could be said about this matter but suffice it to say for now that it is appearing likely that the Tunguska object exploded directly over ground zero of one of the greatest cosmic impacts in the history of the Earth since the advent of life. This is truly a remarkable coincidence, if, in fact, it is only coincidence.

“Much more could be said about this matter but suffice it to say for now that it is appearing likely that the Tunguska object exploded directly over ground zero of one of the greatest cosmic impacts in the history of the Earth since the advent of life. This is truly a remarkable coincidence, if, in fact, it is only coincidence.”

So what was the identity of this cosmic intruder and where did it come from? The two very important clues we have already identified, the time of day and year that the event occurred and the region of space from which the object entered the atmosphere strongly suggest the identity of the Tunguska Cosmic Object as it has been called by some.
The date of June 30 falls right into the peak of the summertime Taurid meteor stream, a matter to which I shall return in a later installment.

-Randall Carlson

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