The Tunguska Event


On the morning of June 30th 1908 a massive explosion occurred over the sparsely occupied eastern Siberian taiga. It flattened 80 million trees over an area of 2,150 km or 830 s miles, nearly the size of Tokyo (or the size of greater Vancouver, Canada)

Within 30 km of the blast an older man was thrown causing a compound fracture in his arm and he died soon after. Hundreds of farmed reindeer in the general area around ground zero, were killed. Many campsites and storage huts scattered in the area were destroyed

Owing to the remoteness of the site and the limited tools available at the time, a lot of the more extensive investigations into this event wouldn't occur for decades. Yet despite there being over a 1000 scholarly papers about the topic, no one can agree on exactly what happened

Episode: File 0006: Tunguska Detectives of Moonville

Release Date: November 27 2020

Researched and presented by Cayla

At breakfast time I was sitting by the house at Vanavara Trading Post [approximately 65 kilometres (40 mi) south of the explosion], ... I suddenly saw that directly to the north, over Onkoul's Tunguska Road, the sky split in two and fire appeared high and wide over the forest. The split in the sky grew larger, and the entire northern side was covered with fire. At that moment I became so hot that I couldn't bear it as if my shirt was on fire; from the northern side, where the fire was, came strong heat. I wanted to tear off my shirt and throw it down, but then the sky shut closed, and a strong thump sounded, and I was thrown a few metres. I lost my senses for a moment ... After that such noise came, as if rocks were falling or cannons were firing, the Earth shook ... I pressed my head down, fearing rocks would smash it. When the sky opened up, hot wind raced between the houses, like from cannons, which left traces in the ground like pathways, and it damaged some crops. Later we saw that many windows were shattered, and in the barn, a part of the iron lock snapped.  

S. Semenov, as recorded by Russian mineralogist Leonid Kulik's expedition in 1930

The Tunguska event is the largest impact event on Earth in recorded history. To understand the magnitude of this, I need to explain what a megaton is.

1 Megaton represents a measure of explosive force equal to a million tons of TNT. A kiloton is a thousand tons of TNT. With that in mind:

  • Hiroshima was about 13-18 kilotons
  • The US Castle Bravo test, the US's most powerful test was about 15.2 megatons 1954
  • The Tunguska event is estimated to be around 20-30 Megatons
  • The only explosive that has been detonated that surpasses that is the Soviet Union's Tsar Bomba test in 1961 which was measured at 50 MT. The max width of the mushroom cap that formed was 95km, 59 miles wide

The Russians say they had a model that would go up to 100 MT, but that the fallout would be disastrous to the world so decided not to test it

 Krasnoyarsk Krai, is like a province, this is where the event happened. The krai covers an area of 2,339,700 square kilometers (903,400 sq mi), about the size of the Congo, with a  population of 2,828,187, which equals about  0.82 KM /0.32 miles to person 

To put that into perspective, two countries of with similar statistics:

Nearest village is 60.84 km / 37.8 miles, Vanavara, which only became a town in 1932, prior to that it was a trading post as a base for herders, hunters, and fishermen
  • Albania with a very close population of 2,845,955 pop, has an area of 28,748 km (.001 km to person) 
  •  Congo which is very close in size at 2,345,409 km, has a population of 91,994,000 (.03 km to person)
Nearest village is 60.84 km / 37.8 miles, Vanavara, which only became a town in 1932, prior to that it was a trading post as a base for herders, hunters, and fishermen

What Exactly Happened?

There are over 700 testimonies we have come a from a variety of sources and remote villages. By aggregating this information we're able to form some sort of picture.

Satellite image of the area surrounding the event site (from google maps)
Satellite image of the area surrounding the event site (from google maps)
  • Before the first signs a police sergeant nearby became nauseous the same way he had before an earthquake a couple years prior
  • At about 7:17am a column of blue-white light could be seen "splitting the sky in half" this light slowly descending to the surface over a period of 10 minutes. The sky was clear other than this and small wispy black cloud near the light
  • In some testimonies part of the sky was filled with fire and the air became incredibly hot and dry
  • As the light got closer to the ground it began to blur and then ignited and a flash of light filled the sky
  • At 7:43 there was a sound like thunder rang out and following it came a shockwave, flattening trees and breaking windows hundreds of kms away
  • And then there was an earthquake measuring 5 on the Richter scale (about the same magnitude as Nagasaki atomic bomb). The explosion registered at seismic stations across Eurasia, and air waves from the blast were detected in Germany, Denmark, Croatia, the United Kingdom, and as far away as Batavia, Dutch East Indies, and Washington, D.C
  • There was two more strikes of the thunder-like noise, accompanied by an underground rattling sound, kind of like underground railroads. Shockwaves tore gashes into the ground hundreds of miles away
  • Then for 5-6 minutes, there was 50-60 salvoes of what sounded like artillery fire, with each burst sounding a little quieter. 2 minutes later was another barrage, 6 more thunders accompanied by tremors.
  • The black cloud over the impact slowly dissipated disappearing entirely by 2-3pm
  • Over the next couple nights in Asia and Europe, the skies glowed


A mineralogist, Leonid Kulik of the Russian Meteorological Institute is the first serious investigation that we have records of. Kulik became interested in the story when he read a newspaper claiming that the passengers of the trans-Siberian railway had observed the impact and even touched the hot meteorite. Upon investigation he found that it was a hoax, but his interest had been piqued 

Since 1928 more than 40 expeditions have occurred, taking samples from the soils, rocks and trees, all with ambiguous results.

Leonid Kulik had aerial photos taken covering the central part of the leveled forests. The original 1,500 negatives of these photos were burned in 1975 by order of Yevgeny Krinov, then Chairman of the Committee on Meteorites of the USSR Academy of Sciences, as part of an initiative to dispose of flammable nitrate film. Positive prints were preserved for further study in the Russian city of Tomsk

In the 1960s, it was established that the zone of levelled forest occupied an area of 2,150 km2 (830 sq mi), its shape resembling a gigantic spread-eagled butterfly with a "wingspan" of 70 km (43 mi) and a "body length" of 55 km (34 mi)

There has been more recent arguments that the Tunguska event wasn't as devastating as originally suspected. Foresters from the area have said that the trees there were old and in rough shape, so it wouldn't have taken much force to knock them over and the winds from the explosion would've been amplified by the ridgelines. Some suspect it to maybe only had the force of 3-5 MT


Astral Bodies

The most supported and common theory is that some kind of astral body gave us a visit. There has been plenty of squabbling over the last century on whether it was a comet or an asteroid, and if it if even made it to the ground

Here's what we know:

John's Stone
John's Stone
  • No impact site has ever been found, there's been a couple false positives (one turned out to be a stump)
  • A creatively named boulder called John's stone (after the guy that found it) was once considered a suspect because it was made of quartz and didn't really fit in to the area, but most scientists agree that while it's weird, it's not the cause. 
  • There is also a lake that has been the center of a debate around its age as to whether or not it could be a potential impact site (as of 2017 scientists are saying the lake is 300 years old so can't be the impact site)

The latest theory as of May 2020, is that no bodies hit Earth, but instead a large iron meteor grazed earth and curved away without breaking up, its mass and momentum carrying it back to space. Scientist ran simulations and what they found was that no comet could pull this off, only an iron asteroid larger than 100m / 328 feet could survive without getting fractured. This model would put the asteroid coming as close as 10kms/6miles to the earth's surface

They believe that this asteroid was somewhere between 100m/328 feet and 200 m/656 feet and hurtled through our atmosphere at 72,000 km/45,000 mph. The meteor would've lost some of its mass on its trip but due to the speed and temperature it would have escaped as gas and plasma and would've dispersed and appeared nearly identical to other earth materials

Another researcher discredits this, saying that if it just grazed earth there's no way so much damage would've been done and it wouldn't match the radial pattern of the felled trees


Engineer and sci-fi writer Aleksander Kasantsews wrote a story in the 1940s which the Tunguska blast was the exploding nuclear power plant of a spaceship from Mars. Elements of this story sometimes get confused with the facts of the actual event

In August 2004 a group of scientists claimed to have found debris of a spacecraft in the area, the group is called the Tunguska Space Phenomenon foundation and is led by Yuri Labvin. And while there's plenty of articles on this grand discovery, there is nothing following that 

Siberia is said to have an inordinate amount of UFO sightings (according to this site, this is the first I have heard of it), and author Pat Regan (who calls himself a researcher) had been investigating the theory of Humalians (human alien highbreds) inspired by the starchild skull found in 1930 Mexico, which many alien enthusiasts cite as evidence toward human alien relations.

While writing his book about Humaliens, Pat was contacted by a bookstore owner in Leeds who had heard of Pat's book and claimed to have something of interest for the author, an image from his private collection: a picture of a Siberian woman and her baby, which he claimed were descendants of human alien relations

In August 2004 a group of scientists claimed to have found debris of a spacecraft in the area, the group is called the Tunguska Space Phenomenon foundation and is led by Yuri Labvin. And while there's plenty of articles on this grand discovery, there is nothing following that 

A quote by the owner of the image, Chris Bay

"The pic is very historic, taken at the turn of the century (circa 1900). Notice in particular the shape of the mothers head and the length of her fingers! The kid looks almost identical to the Area51 images of aliens and could easily be the result of mating between aliens and humans. The photo is absolutely genuine but no claims of extra terrestrial influence have been made about it before."

Pat looked to the Tunguska event and a particular story of the first official expedition to the site. In 1927 when Leonid Kulik first made his way to the area, he had hired a group of Evenki hunters as a guides. The Evenks people are indigenous to Siberia, Mongolia and China and due to the isolation in Siberia have been able to live their lives mostly undisturbed

The Evenki hunters led him just south of the impact site, but refused to go further due to their fear of what they called "Valleymen"

Pat posed the question to Chris Bay if he thought this picture had something to do with the event

"You've stitched together some interesting links here and of course apart from the Tunguska impact there have been many other meteorite hits in northern Siberia over the centuries any one of which could have disguised the crash landing of a spaceship (if indeed it was a crash and not a chosen landing) but my take on the photo is that the mother is herself a product of Alien interbreeding from several generations previously and we need to look for a 'visit' anomaly during the period 1775-1800. The importance of this picture is that it seems to record alien physical traits which will have subsequently been 'subsumed' during later interbreeding of alien offspring with the native Siberians who make up the majority of the population. Hence only a DNA analysis could now repudiate the possibility that this picture is proof of a race of humaliens living in Siberia."

Obviously this is all very believable, but it did make me want to look deeper into who these valleymen are/were

When I began searching for information on Valleymen, one of the first things I came across was a TV show called 'Siberia'. A show filmed as if it were a survival reality show where 16 contestants get dropped off in Siberia and shit proceeds to go horribly wrong, the synopsis is as follows:


When I began searching for information on Valleymen, one of the first things I came across was a TV show called 'Siberia'. A show filmed as if it were a survival reality show where 16 contestants get dropped off in Siberia and shit proceeds to go horribly wrong, the synopsis is as follows:

When 16 reality show contestants enter the remote Siberian region of Tunguska, none of them are aware of the meteor event that took place there in 1908 or the land's mysterious past. After one competitor sustains an injury and no one arrives to help, the group starts to realize that the strange happenings plaguing them are not part of the show and that their lives are in danger. The competitors must forget about the show they signed up for and band together in an effort to ensure their survival.

So needless to say I am going to be watching that when I get a chance and will report back!

The great and terrible thing about this show and its cult-like popularity is there's a bunch of theories and personal investigation into the lore behind the show. Naturally most are based entirely on what the show presents and have very little to do with reality, but there are a few gems out there written by people who did a little more research 

I found this great source, originally written by Innokentiy Mikhaylovich Suslov (b. 1893, d. 1972) who worked as ethnographer and geographer in the Far North of the Soviet Union, who spent 1926-1928 in the Tunguska region and getting to know the Evenki people and collecting his stories into a book in 1930

Naturally this was originally in Russian, but in 1983 the book was translated to German. In recent years it has since been translated to English by Joachim Otto Habeck and friends on their website focused on cosmic events

The original author had questioned the Evenks people about the Tunguska event, but they were notoriously tight lipped until eventually they relented this story:

For a long time the Tungus clans feuded, eventually this hostility resulted in shamans from each tribe sending evil spirits cursing each other with disease. One of the shamans called upon Agdy to destroy their enemies.

Agdy in the evensk tongue means thunder but also is used to describe the lord of thunder as well as all the thunderbirds that come down to earth and cause thunder. The birds are large and made of iron with fiery eyes. The thunder arises from their flight above the earth and their eyes flash like lightning

In the early morning of June 30 1908 a legion of Agdy flew down upon the Shanyagir clan and brought disaster to many families of the Shanyagir: some tents flew into the air, «higher than the forest», and the people sleeping inside suffered from bruises. 250 reindeer vanished without any trace; other Tungus' dogs and some reindeer were killed; the storage platforms with bread and equipment were destroyed; the forest, a real, ancient taiga, was flatened within a few seconds to an expanse of approximately 10,000 km² there was a tremendous thunderous noise, which caused crevices in the earth

Now many Tungus believe that only the Agdy can live at the place of that catastrophe; it has already been 20 years since then, and still nobody dares turn up in this area 

Read the full article here

Other Natural Events

Most believe Tunguska to be the result of some cosmic event there are those that believe otherwise

Gas Explosion/Kimberlite pipes

Astrophysicist Wolfgang Kundt has proposed the theory of an eruption of natural gas from kimberlite, a kind of volcanic rock best known for sometimes holding diamonds, could be to blame.

"It would have come from the molten earth, some 3,000 kilometers deep (1,864 miles). The natural gas would be stored as a fluid that deep, and when it reaches the surface it would become a gas and expand by a factor of thousand in volume, for a huge explosion." 

that natural gas leaked out of the crust and then rose to its equal-density height in the atmosphere; from there, it drifted downwind, in a sort of wick, which eventually found an ignition source such as lightning. Once the gas was ignited, the fire streaked along the wick, and then down to the source of the leak in the ground, whereupon there was an explosion

As for evidence he cites some chemical anomalies and the pattern in which the trees fell

But by all accounts the weather was clear the entire day up to the event

Black Hole

In 1973, American physicists proposed that a small black hole collided with our planet, causing a matter-antimatter explosion in Earth's atmosphere. I couldn't find much more on this theory, but it was worth mentioning

Nikola Tesla

A Nikola Tesla "death ray." The man who pioneered radio and modern alternating current electric power (AC) systems was often seen as a mad scientist. One story alleges he test-fired a death ray on the evening of June 30, 1908, and once he found out about the Tunguska event, he dismantled the weapon, deeming it too dangerous to remain in existence

This theory is also supported by the Assassin's creed universe

An alternative to this theory is:

  • According to this theory Tesla as working on a wireless torpedo known as "teloautomatron" the thought being that he was being pressured b the US military to use his genius for war, but the event in Tunguska caused the military to back out and cover the whole thing up


We may never know exactly what caused the Tunguska event. It's a mystery that has endured for a hundred years, what's a hundred more?

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