First Tunguska meteorite fragments reportedly found by Russian mineralogist

// May 2nd, 2013 // Astronomy and Space News

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Possible Tunguska meteorite fragments discovered by Russian mineralogist

On 30 June 1908, a powerful explosion occurred over an isolated region of Siberia near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River.  The blast was 1000 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, registered 5 on the Richter scale and is thought to have knocked down some 80 million trees over an area of 2000 square kilometers.  The generally accepted theory is that the explosion was the result of a meteorite or comet exploding in the Earth’s atmosphere, similar to (but at a smaller scale) than the recent Russian meteorite explosion that shattered windows all over Urals in February 2013. Still, 100 years later, no convincing evidence of a comet or meteor explosion has been found.  Now, Andrei Zlobin from the Russian Academy of Sciences claims that he has found three rocks from the Tunguska region with the telltale characteristics of meteorites.

The area of greatest interest for meteor scientists is called the Suslov depression, which lies directly beneath the location of the air blast and is the place where meteorite debris was most likely to fall.  Previous digs in the peat-bog produced no meteorite fragments.  However, Zlobin had more luck exploring the bed of the local Khushmo River, where he surmised meteorite debris was more likely to collect, and be naturally cleaned, over a long period of time. From the Khushmo River, Zlobin collected around 100 interesting specimens.  This expedition took place in 1988 and for some unexplained reason, Zlobin allowed the collection to sit in limbo for 20 years. Finally, in 2008, he sorted the collection and found three stones with clear evidence of melting and thumb-like impressions found on the surface of meteorites which are produced as the hot rock falls through the atmosphere at high speed.  He described his find in a paper released on April 29 which includes a explanation of how the stones were found:

During the expedition of 1988, in July 24 the author arrived at Pristan camp near the coast of the Khushmo River. He was there from July 24 to July 26. Before returning to Kulik’s Zaimka main camp, the author investigated the shoal of the Khushmo River near Pristan with the purpose to find stones which looks like meteorites. Also some stones were collected which seems as aesthetic. Stones were good visible at the bottom of the shoal and the author found interesting samples. All collection consisted of more than 100 stones and the author delivered these samples to Moscow by airplane. Gross weight of all stones was approximately 1.5 kg.

Strict confirmation of discovered melted stones as Tunguska meteorites is possible only after attentive chemical analysis of substance which Zlobin is currently in the process of conducting.

Other stones found near the Tunguska explosion site

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