The Tunguska Event RevisitedOPEN ACCESS 

L. Foschini, L. Gasperini, C. Stanghellini, G. Longo, R. Serra, E. Bonatti, A. Polonia, G. Stanghellini


“The 1908 Tunguska Event is one of the best studied cases of a cosmic body impacting the Earth with global effects. However, still today, significant doubts are casted on the different proposed event reconstructions. In the present work, we would like to revisit the atmospheric fragmentation of the Tunguska Cosmic Body (TCB) by taking into account the possibility that a metre-sized fragment caused the formation of the Lake Cheko, located at about 9km NW the epicentre. Our work favours the hypothesis that the TCB was a rubble-pile asteroid composed by boulders with very different materials with different mechanical strengths, density, and porosity. The TCB was divided at least into two pieces by a close encounter with the Earth, short before the impact with our Planet: the main body (60m) produced the well-known airburst that devastated more than 2000km^2 of Siberian taig\`a, while the secondary one (6-10m) fell without fragmentation in the Kimchu river region and excavated a 50m depression, which presently hosts the Lake Cheko. This hypothesis requires that the secondary body was an extremely compact stone with high mechanical strength (300MPa). It is a high, but not unrealistic, value, as shown by a similar case that occurred in 2007 near the village of Carancas (Peru). An extreme compactness is not necessary, if one considers that the crater excavation could be enhanced by the explosion of permafrost-trapped methane released and ignited during the impact process. In this case, a smaller fragment (2m) with an average mechanical strength could reach the ground without fragmentation and is sufficient to excavate the Lake Cheko. We exclude the hypothesis of a single cosmic body ejecting a metre-sized fragment during or shortly before the airburst, because the resulting lateral velocity of such a large boulder was not enough to deviate to reach the alleged impact site.”