30th June 1908 – The Tunguska Event

A massive explosion occurred near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in the middle of Siberia. The explosion was probably caused by the air burst of a meteor or comet fragment at a height of about 5 to 10 kilometers. The yield of the explosion is estimated to be the equivalent of between 10-15 megatons of TNT. About 2150 square kilometers of trees were flattened by the explosion. That is the same area as a circle about 52 kilometers in diameter. Humans were lucky that time since the area it impacted was very isolated. If the air burst had occurred over a major city hundreds of thousands could have died. This fortunately is rather unlikely, since cities cover such a small area of the Earth’s surface.

The Tunguska Event

I just noticed that the latitude of the site of the Tunguska event is nearly the same as the place I live. If the impact had occurred roughly 6 hours later it could have hit 20 or so kilometers from where I am right now.


One Response to 30th June 1908 – The Tunguska Event

  1. It just so happens that I am currently reading Arthur C. Clarke’s The Hammer of God, which is about a huge meteor heading towards Earth, and early in the book he mentioned several historical events involving meteors, and of course Tunguska is one of them. He made the point that if it had struck 2 hours later (or earlier, I can’t remember which) it would have leveled Moscow and changed the course of history.

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