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Archive for the ‘Siberia’ Category

100 Years Of Space Rock: The Tunguska Impact

Posted by Kris Roman on June 30, 2008

At around 7:17 on the morning of June 30, 1908, a man based at the trading post at Vanavara in Siberia is sitting on his front porch. In a moment, 40 miles from the center of an immense blast of unknown origin, he will be hurled from his chair and the heat will be so intense he will feel as though his shirt is on fire.

The man at the trading post, and others in a largely uninhabited region of Siberia, near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River, are to be accidental eyewitnesses to cosmological history.

“If you want to start a conversation with anyone in the asteroid business all you have to say is Tunguska,” said Don Yeomans, manager of the Near-Earth Object Office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “It is the only entry of a large meteoroid we have in the modern era with first-hand accounts.”

While the impact occurred in ’08, the first scientific expedition to the area would have to wait for 19 years. In 1921, Leonid Kulik, the chief curator for the meteorite collection of the St. Petersburg museum led an expedition to Tunguska.

But the harsh conditions of the Siberian outback thwarted his team’s attempt to reach the area of the blast. In 1927, a new expedition, again lead by Kulik, reached its goal.

“At first, the locals were reluctant to tell Kulik about the event,” said Yeomans. “They believed the blast was a visitation by the god Ogdy, who had cursed the area by smashing trees and killing animals.”

tunguska-impact-1908-bgWhile testimonials may have at first been difficult to obtain, there was plenty of evidence lying around. Eight hundred square miles of remote forest had been ripped asunder. Eighty million trees were on their sides, lying in a radial pattern.

“Those trees acted as markers, pointing directly away from the blast’s epicenter,” said Yeomans. “Later, when the team arrived at ground zero, they found the trees there standing upright — but their limbs and bark had been stripped away. They looked like a forest of telephone poles.”

Such debranching requires fast moving shock waves that break off a tree’s branches before the branches can transfer the impact momentum to the tree’s stem. Thirty seven years after the Tunguska blast, branchless trees would be found at the site of another massive explosion — Hiroshima, Japan.

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100 years on, mystery shrouds massive ‘cosmic impact’ in Russia

Posted by Kris Roman on June 29, 2008

A hundred years ago this week, a gigantic explosion ripped open the dawn sky above the swampy taiga forest of western Siberia, leaving a scientific riddle that endures to this day.

A dazzling light pierced the heavens, preceding a shock wave with the power of a thousand atomic bombs which flattened 80 million trees in a swathe of more than 2,000 square kilometres (800 square miles).

Evenki nomads recounted how the blast tossed homes and animals into the air. In Irkutsk, 1,500 kilometres (950 miles) away, seismic sensors registered what was initially deemed to be an earthquake. The fireball was so great that a day later, Londoners could read their newspapers under the night sky.

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New region formed in Russia

Posted by Kris Roman on March 6, 2008

New region formed in Russia A new name has appeared on Russia’s map. The Zabaikalsky region was officially born on Saturday. The region in Russia’s South-East Siberia combines the territories of former Aginsk Buryat Autonomous Area and Chita Region.

So the number of Russia’s federal territories has decreased from 84 to 83.The new region is expected to become a centre for investment projects, including railroad construction and development of local ore deposits.A referendum on consolidating the two regions was held last March.  

Posted in Politics, Siberia | Comments Off on New region formed in Russia