Abstract

Isotopic geochemical investigations were carried out on peat samples from the 1908 Tunguska Cosmic Body (TCB) explosion area. We analyzed two peat columns from the Northern peat bog, sampled in 1998, and from the Raketka peat bog, sampled during the 1999 Italian expedition, both located near the epicenter of the TCB explosion area. At the depth of the catastrophic layer, formed in 1908, and deeper, one can observe shifts in the isotopic composition of nitrogen (up to 15N=+7.2) and carbon (up to 13C=+2) and also an increase in the nitrogen concentration compared to those in the normal, upper layers, unaffected by the Tunguska event. One possible explanation for these effects could be the presence of nitrogen and carbon from TCB material and from acid rains, following the TCB explosion, in the catastrophic and precatastrophic layers of peat. We found that the highest quantity of isotopically heavy nitrogen fell near the explosion epicenter and along the TCB trajectory. It is calculated that 200,000 tons of nitrogen fell over the area of devastated forest, i.e., only about 30% of the value calculated by Rasmussen et al. (1984). This discrepancy is probably caused by part of the nitrogen having dispersed in the Earths atmosphere. The isotopic effects observed in the peat agree with the results of previous investigations (Kolesnikov et al., 1998a, 1998b, 1999; Rasmussen et al., 1999) and also with the increased content of iridium and other platinoids found in the corresponding peat layers of other columns (Hou et al., 1998, 2000). These data favor the hypothesis of a cosmochemical origin of the isotopic effects.

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