Skip to main content
Home Off Topic

The Mysterious Tunguska Explosion of 1908 -- on this date in history . . . .

Baits OutBaits Out Posts: 12,328 AG
Just after 7 o'clock on the morning of June 30, 1908, a massive explosion occurred near the banks of the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in a remote area of Siberia, part of the sprawling Russian Empire.

How Widely Was the Explosion Felt?

Nearly two decades after the Tunguska event, the devastation to the surrounding forest was still very apparent. Shortly before the explosion, people living in the hills northwest of Lake Baikal, hundreds of miles south of the impact site, saw a blue-tinged column of light streaking across the sky. Shortly thereafter, they witnessed a stunning flash of light and heard the sound of a massive explosion. A man sitting at his house near Vanavara, roughly 40 miles from the impact site, reported that as the mysterious light in the sky grew closer, he felt such unbearable heat that he thought for a moment his clothes were on fire. Moments later, the force of the explosion threw him several feet from the spot where he'd been sitting. Seismographs at Irkutsk, 500 miles away, registered a shock wave equivalent to an earthquake measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale. The shock wave also registered on seismographs as far away as London.

What Was Determined to Be the Cause?

In February 2013, a meteoroid exploded in the skies over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk. So remote was the site of the impact that it was several years before the first recorded scientific expedition was launched to investigate the cause of the explosion. In 1921, Russian mineralogist Leonid Kulik led a mission organized by the Soviet Academy of Sciences. Based largely on eyewitness accounts, the scientists on the expedition initially concluded that the explosion and subsequent impact were caused by a giant meteorite crashing to Earth. A subsequent mission in 1927 found no crater site but instead an area of the forest -- five miles across -- with scorched trees that were still standing but were devoid of branches. This was determined to be ground zero of the explosion. Moving farther away from that point in all directions were larger areas of the forest where virtually all the trees had been knocked down in a direction away from ground zero. Given the absence of a crater site, current scientific thinking attributes the explosion and impact on the forest below to the mid-air explosion of a meteorite roughly four to six miles above the Earth's surface.

How Does Tunguska's Event Compare to Other Massive Explosions?

Based on all the scientific evidence gathered over the years, scientists estimate that the explosion over Tunguska was equivalent in explosive power to somewhere between 10 and 30 megatons of TNT. By contrast, the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the closing days of World War II were equivalent to about 13 kilotons and 21 kilotons of TNT, respectively. Although far less powerful than the Tunguska explosion, the bombs dropped on those Japanese cities caused widespread devastation. More recently, on February 15, 2013, a meteoroid estimated to weigh 10,000 tons exploded 14 miles above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in the Ural Mountains. That explosion was estimated to be equivalent to 460 kilotons of TNT, far more powerful than the atomic bombs of World War II but only a fraction of the size of the Tunguska explosion.

A southeast Florida laid back beach bum and volunteer bikini assessor who lives on island time. 


  • FibberMckeeFibberMckee Posts: 12,826 AG
    Was lucky enough to witness the April 1966 fireball/bolide seen on East coast. Happened to be out playing catch with a cousin in upstate NY & was facing South, so I saw it coming from a very great distance in perfectly clear conditions. It was visible for quite a long time, threw off chunks, changed colors, made 'Twilight Zone' sound effects & trailed sonic booms. We watched it heading towards Canada. Believe what was left of it struck Earth near Hudson Bay. It was a jaw dropping event. Never seen anything like it since.
  • PolarPolar Posts: 22,492 AG
    musta sucked when it ya'll witnessed it take out all the dinosaurs and what not :)
  • team getterdunteam getterdun Posts: 1,741 Captain
    I think I just experience a Tanguska explosion. Co-workers near the bathrooms are not amused.
    "Fundamentals are nothing but a crutch for the talentless" - Kenny Powers
  • Baits OutBaits Out Posts: 12,328 AG
    The new Supermarket near our house has an automatic water mister to keep the produce fresh. Just before it goes on, you hear the sound of distant thunder and the smell of fresh rain.

    When you approach the milk cases, you hear cows mooing and witness the scent of fresh hay.

    When you approach the egg case, you hear hens cluck and cackle and the air is filled with the pleasing aroma of bacon and eggs frying.

    The veggie department features the smell of fresh buttered corn.

    I don't buy toilet paper there any more.


    A southeast Florida laid back beach bum and volunteer bikini assessor who lives on island time. 
  • Westwall01Westwall01 Posts: 5,452 Admiral
    I think I just experience a Tanguska explosion. Co-workers near the bathrooms are not amused.

  • fins4mefins4me Posts: 14,483 AG
    If a Tunguska event took place over a crowded region it would result in untold death and destruction. We have been fortunate that bullets are often dodged.
    ALLISON XB 21,, MERCURY 300 Opti Max Pro Series (Slightly Modified) You can't catch me!!!
    "Today is MINE"
  • Keep on SpoolinKeep on Spoolin Posts: 1,359 Officer
    Polar wrote: »
    musta sucked when it ya'll witnessed it take out all the dinosaurs and what not :)

Sign In or Register to comment.
Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

Preview This Month's Issue

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Florida Sportsman App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Florida Sportsman stories delivered right to your inbox.


Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Florida Sportsman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now