Mysterious “Nuclear” Event in 1908 Russia May Finally Be Solved 

Alones /
Alones /

On June 30, 1908, a giant explosion flattened 800 square miles around the Tunguska forest in what is now known as Siberia, Russia. The blast rocked the otherwise quiet summer morning, with residents over 620 miles away affected by its light and sound. 

Experts note that the explosive force was comparable to 15 megatons of dynamite, or one thousand times more potent than the 1945 atomic bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. 

The scene was chaotic, with villagers in Nizhne-Karelinskoye, over 280 miles from the blast site, believing “Armageddon” had arrived. Local newspapers described an “enormous mass of black smoke” and a knocking noise that, per the journalists at the time, “was not thunder.” The papers also reported that buildings shook and fire “of an indefinite shape” poured from a “small, dark cloud.” 

Witnesses say they saw a blinding blue light that hovered in the air for more than ten minutes after the explosion, describing it as looking like a “tube.” Other witnesses say they saw a “second sun” in the sky as the air filled with roaring noises and flashes of light.  

Local farmer Semyon Semyonov recounted his experience in 1927. He was sitting on his porch shortly after 7 am on the late summer morning when he saw the north sky “split apart.”  He said it looked like the entire sky to the north was ablaze. Before he could react, Symyonov said he felt his shirt had caught fire, and a powerful blast threw him down the steps. 

He said that he was rendered unconscious from the force, but his wife ran out to help him. As the couple retreated into the house, Semyonov said loud knocking filled the sky, “as if stones were falling” from above. 

Scientists could agree that the explosion was a meteor if not for a tiny, nagging problem. No crater was ever found. 

Some researchers believe that the crater formed a new lake, one which they argue didn’t appear on maps before 1908. These scientists say that either one meteor broke into two parts or there were two separate but simultaneous events. One exploded in midair, accounting for the visual effects experienced by witnesses, while another hit the earth and created Lake Cheko. 

The Russian Academy of Scholars debunked the meteor theory, saying that after testing sediment cores, Lake Cheko was found to be 280 years old, created long before the 1908 incident. 

However, some researchers have developed a more interesting Tunguska Event theory. In a 1973 study published in Nature, physicists from the University of Texas proposed that the Tunguska explosion might have resulted from a large primordial black hole colliding with Earth. They suggested that such a black hole, with a mass comparable to a giant asteroid, could explain the absence of a typical impact crater and the reported blue “tube” observed by witnesses. The researchers noted that the shock front’s radiation, primarily in the vacuum ultraviolet, would be absorbed and re-emitted in longer wavelengths, resulting in the plasma column’s distinctive deep blue appearance. 

The impact would not have left a crater at the scene of the incident but would have left a gaping “exit wound” on the other side of the planet. According to these theorists, when the black hole “entered the earth, ” the impact site’s rock surfaces prevented underground shock waves that would otherwise have left a telltale crater behind. Per these scientists, the “smoking gun” should be found following a straight line through the earth. Unfortunately, following this straight line leads to the Atlantic Ocean. 

Black holes are classified into three main types based on their size. “Stellar” black holes, the most common type, form when stars collapse. “Supermassive” black holes originated from the collapse of enormous stars in the early universe and can grow larger by consuming smaller objects or merging with other supermassive black holes.  

The smallest type, “primordial” black holes, are purely theoretical, and scientists have yet to confirm their existence. According to NASA, primordial black holes are hypothesized to have formed within the first second after the universe’s birth. 

And some researchers think a primordial black hole may have caused the 1908 Tunguska Event.  

Naturally, this “explosive” theory is hypothetical; most scientists believe a meteor caused the incident. Scientists agree that these events are a “once in a century” occurrence, but if that calculation holds, the world may be looking at a not-so-distant future repeat performance.