Tunguska Event - Surviving Tree
Tunguska Event - Surviving Tree
The Tunguska Event is part of the First Edition collection. We are happy to offer it once again as a stand-alone specimen!
On June 30, 1908, the largest impact event in recorded history occurred over the skies of the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in Siberia. In an instant, a 12-megaton explosion leveled 80 million trees over an area of 830 square miles (2,150 sq km), and for nights after, the skies of Eurasia glowed with light.
This specimen is a section of wood from a surviving tree of the 1908 Tunguska Event. The material was collected by scientists from the University of Bologna, studying the suspected epicenter of the blast at Lake Cheko. We acquired this specimen directly from University of Bologna researchers during the making of the First Edition of the Mini Museum and it has been in our Collection ever since.
Two sizes of this specimen are available: a surviving tree fragment in an acrylic specimen jar and a large cross-section featuring the 1908 growth rings. The material is encased within a glass-topped riker display box. The box measures 4 1/2" x 3 1/2". Two information cards are also included, along with the official Mini Museum seal of authenticity. You can see the full info on this incredible item below.
Please Note: As you might expect, this material is exceptionally rare. Cross-section samples are almost impossible to find, and smaller samples are non-existent. Our own supply is limited to just two segments of wood, so this will be a very limited run specimen. The 1908 Cross Section will be even more exclusive as only 100 will be made.
📸 Both Sizes of the Tunguska Event Specimen
Tunguska Event: Surviving Tree
On a sleepy morning in June of 1908, a column of blue light moved through the atmosphere over the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in Siberia. Minutes later, a flash filled the sky, and a deafening boom shook the earth.
Shock waves from the blast could be measured from across the globe, and the skies over Eurasia glowed for several nights after. Thought to be an airburst meteorite, the Tunguska Event was the largest impact event in recorded history. 80 million trees were instantly flattened over an area of 830 square miles (2,150 sq km.) With a 12-megaton explosion, it was easily capable of destroying a city.
📸 The 1908 Cross Section Specimen
This specimen is a rare section of material from a surviving tree of the Tunguska Event blast. It was collected by scientists from the University of Bologna in 2002, who were gathering data at Lake Cheko, the suspected epicenter of the blast. Dendrochronological analysis of tree resin and growth rings provides direct evidence of the catastrophic event.
We featured this material in the First Edition of the Mini Museum and we are excited to finally offer it as a standalone specimen. The wood is extremely rare and samples of this size are not easy to find. Because of this, the material is a limited-run specimen for the Mini Museum shop, as it will not be possible to obtain more.
Two sizes are available: a small fragment presented in an acrylic specimen jar and a large cross-section. This larger specimen includes the growth rings before and after the Tunguska Event in 1908, which is marked with a small removable arrow.
Please Note: While both specimens come from the surviving tree, only the 1908 Cross Section contains the growth rings from the 1908 event.
📸 Both specimens with their included display cards
To commemorate this exclusive item, we created a new 3x4" display card with photos from the site, a map of the area, and information about the event. The larger cards also serve as the certificate of authenticity and feature the official Mini Museum Seal of Authenticity. The 1908 Cross Section is also marked with a handwritten limited edition number. You can see the front and back of this new card below.
In addition to the larger card, we have also included our standard photo card, in case you wish to keep a unified look with the other Mini Museum items in your collection, though we think you'll love the look of this card just as much as we do.
Please Note: Both specimens ship inside our classic glass-topped black riker display cases. The cases are designed to open so that you can see the specimen and arrange the cards as you wish, though do handle the wood carefully as it is thin pine.
FRONT OF THE LARGE 3x4" CARD
BACK OF THE LARGE 3x4" CARD
June 30, 1908
MORE ABOUT THE TUNGUSKA EVENT
📸 A Triptych (three frame painting) by Nikolay Fyodorov (1918-1990) depicting electrostatic discharges at the Tunguska Event site. In 1939 Fyodorov and mineralologist Leonid Alekseyevich Kulik went to Siberia to visit the site. Fyodorov sketched the fallen trees and other travel impressions later creating the series of paintings dedicated to the Tunguska event and based on impressions and stories of local inhabitants, the Evenks. This particular painting can be found in the Darwin Museum in Moscow.
On the morning of June 30, 1908, in a remote area of eastern Siberia, a strange sight was witnessed in the sky. It began as a column of blue light moving through the atmosphere over the Podkamennaya Tunguska River. Minutes later, a flash filled the horizon and a deafening boom shook the earth. This phenomenon, known as the Tunguska Event, would become known as the largest impact event in recorded history. Shockwaves from the blast could be measured from across the globe. An estimated 80 million trees were flattened, and for nights after the skies over Eurasia could be seen glowing.
📸 Trees flattened on a hillside by the explosion. Photo taken in 1929.
Searching for the Source
The Podkamennaya Tunguska River runs for a thousand miles, deep within the Russian Taiga. This region is difficult to reach, but for over a century scientists have trekked to study and retrieve physical evidence of the event.
In 1921, the first team of scientists headed by mineralogist Leonid Kulik began investigating the area. Their first expedition did not lead them to the impact site, though they did conclude that the event was due to a meteorite. On subsequent trips, Kulik’s team found the center of the destruction, a 5-mile patch of forest full of scorched trees stripped of their branches. Strangely, there was no impact site found.
📸 A slice of wood from a surviving tree near Lake Cheko. The 1908 tree rings are marked to show the effect of the airburst on growth.
Further investigations of the site showed that while there was no crater, there was evidence of an extraterrestrial body. Microscopic spheres of silicates and magnetite could be found in the soil and lodged in some trees. This metal had a high nickel-to-iron ratio, a quality commonly found in meteorites.
The tiny size of the residue and lack of a crater suggests that the object exploded in midair and disintegrated before it hit the ground. Because of this, little is known about the actual object behind the Tunguska event.
📸 Longo, Di Martino, Andreev, Anfinogenov, Budaeva, Kovrigin: "A new unified catalogue and a new map of the 1908 tree fall in the site of the Tunguska Cosmic Body explosion." In: Asteroid-comet Hazard-2005, pp. 222-225, Institute of Applied Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences (2005)
The Power of the blast
There is speculation that the object may have been either a meteorite or a stony comet somewhere around 200 feet (60 m) in size. The altitude of the explosion is uncertain, though it must have been at least 3 miles. Even the strength of the blast is unknown, with estimates ranging from 3 to 30 megatons of TNT, over a thousand times stronger than the Hiroshima blast.
What is known is the area affected by the event. It disrupted over 830 square miles (2,150 sq km) of forest and left behind a significant amount of suspended particles in the atmosphere. A blast of that size could have easily destroyed a metropolitan area.
The sudden and destructive nature of the Tunguska event gives one pause about the possible power of future meteoric events. History shows possible records of massive meteorites lighting up the sky in ancient Greek, South American, and Babylonian stories. A Tunguska class impact is estimated to be a thousand-year event, meaning the likelihood of such an impact occurring again is relatively low. That said, in 2013 an airburst of about half the power of Tunguska occurred over Chelyabinsk, Russia.
Front of the Small Specimen Card
Back of the Small Specimen Card
Brown, P., et al. “The Flux of Small near-Earth Objects Colliding with the Earth.” Nature, vol. 420, no. 6913, 2002, pp. 294–296., doi:10.1038/nature01238.
Gasperini, L., et al. "A Possible Impact Crater for the 1908 Tunguska Event." Terra Nova 19.4 (2007): 245-251.
Gasperini, Luca, et al. "Sediments from Lake Cheko (Siberia), A Possible Impact Crater for the 1908 Tunguska Event." Terra Nova 21.6 (2009): 489-494.
Napier, Bill, and David Asher. "The Tunguska Impact Event and Beyond." Astronomy & Geophysics 50.1 (2009): 1-18.
N. V. Vasiliev, A. F. Kovalevsky, S. A. Razin, L. E. Epiktetova. Eyewitness accounts of Tunguska (Crash). 1981.
Serra, R., et al. "Experimental Hints on the Fragmentation of the Tunguska Cosmic Body." Planetary and Space Science 42 (1994): 777-783.
Wheeler, Lorien F., and Donovan L. Mathias. “Probabilistic Assessment of Tunguska-Scale Asteroid Impacts.” Icarus, vol. 327, 2019, pp. 83–96., doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2018.12.017.
Whipple, F. J. W. “On Phenomena Related to the Great Siberian Meteor.” Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, vol. 60, no. 257, 2007, pp. 505–522., doi:10.1002/qj.49706025709.
Longo G., Di Martino M., Andreev G., Anfinogenov J., Budaeva L., Kovrigin E.: "A new unified catalogue and a new map of the 1908 tree fall in the site of the Tunguska Cosmic Body explosion." In: Asteroid-comet Hazard-2005, pp. 222-225, Institute of Applied Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, Russia, 2005