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One night in 1908, a white light lit up the sky, and a tremendous explosion follows moments later.  The shock wave from an explosion 1000 times stronger than the Hiroshima nuclear blast destroyed trees for around 800 square miles.  This happened in Siberia, in the forests of Tunguska.

Since that time, speculations about the cause of the explosion have been varied and sometimes exotic.  No fragments of what impacted the ground have been found, so speculation has ranged from a small black hole to a UFO crashing into the ground.

Raising questions

Original shot from after the incident – By CYD (From English Wikipedia, en:Image:Tunguska01.png) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A team of four Russian researchers have announced they have recovered fragments of an object and are claiming it is the Tunguska meteorite.  The report, in Universe Today, tells that the researchers have studied 100 years of information, eyewitness reports and aerial photographs as well as studied the felled trees.  They have examined exotic rocks and are claiming the meteorite was Martian in origin.

Andrei Zlobin from the Russian Academy of Sciences’ at Vernadsky State Geological Museum found several stones that had traces of melting and published an article in April 2013.  Doubts were cast as the expedition that found the pieces took place in 1988 and that Zlobin’s report was only a preliminary study.  He had not carried out a chemical analysis of the rocks, so, therefore, experts were doubtful of his claims.

New research on the rocks has been completed by Dr. Yana Anfinogenov as well as tests on a rock called John’s Stone.  This was found in July 1972, a dark grey boulder with an almond shape and broken along one side.

John’s Stone and Tunguska

Again sceptics are curious as to why it has taken such a long period of time to be analysed.  While there have been reports over the 40 years, none has appeared in English papers.  Anfinogenov quotes new develops, especially in Mars geology, allows for a new study.

He continues to state that John’s Stone shows impact signs from the boulder hitting the ground with catastrophic speed and leaving deep marks in the permafrost.  Trajectory and landing velocities also seem to tie in with the Tunguska meteorite.  The stone also contains shear-fractured splinter fragment with a glossy coating which might indicate heat from atmospheric entry.  Tests have indicated a temperature of around 500 degrees Celsius is needed to create these splinters.

A meteorite expert from Curtin University, Perth, Australia, Dr. Phil Bland claims in contrast that no evidence has been presented to show that John’s Stone was involved in Tunguska event or that it came from Mars.

The paper claims the mineral structure and chemical composition match rocks from Mars with quartz sandstone in grain sizes of 0.5 t0 1.5cm and rich in silica.  But there is no details of the microanalysis included or the isotopic studies.

Dr. Bland also states that a rock ejected from Mars would have a diameter of 1-2 metres, not the 20-30 metres that would have been required to cause the Tunguska event.

Analysis continues.