The Tunguska plateau is an isolated area in central Siberia. On the morning of June 30, 1908, inhabitants of the area saw and geard a mysterious explosion. Fire covered the sky, and the earth shook violently. In the following nights, there were strange lights in th sky. The night sky was so bright that people could read the newspaper outdoors. Far away in Europe, many people reported seeing unusual lights in the night sky.
The Tunguska plateau is very difficult to reach, so no one went to inspect the site of the explosion. Most people thougt the explosion was probably an earthquake, and they soon forgot about it.
Nineteen years passed before Leonid Kulik, a Russian scientist, went to look for the site of the explosion. With great difficulty, he traveled on foot to the Tunguska plateau. What he saw there amazed him. As far as he could see, the rees were black. Many lay flat on the ground. The explosion burned perhaps 80 million trees over an are of about 1,000 square miles. After seeing the destruction, Kulik decided that a meteor probably caused the explosion.
For many years, the meteor theory was the most popular explanation for the Tunguska explosion. However, there were problems with this theory. No one could find the crater where the meteor hit the ground, and no one could find any pieces of a meteor. In addition, some of the trees at the center of the explosion weren`t burned.
Over the years, there were many explanations for the Tunguska explosion. Some people thought it was a huge bomb. Others suggested that it was an exploding spaceship. One recent theory is that the meteor exploded in the air before it hit the ground. That explains the missing crater, but it doesn`t explain the missing pieces of a meteor. A more recent theory suggests something completely different. Perhaps it wasn`t something from outer space that destroyed the area. Instead, some scientists now think gas from the center of the earth caused the explosion.
Scientists continue to travel to the Tunguska plateau looking for clues to the cause of the explosion. Every few years newspapers report that scientists finally have a solution to the Tunguska mystery. So far, however, scientists can`t agree on the cause of the explosion. For them, the Tunguska explosion is still one of the great mysteries of all time.