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No. 38: Mar-Apr 1985

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Still Another Mystery Cloud

April 9, 1984. Western Pacific. The crews of three airliners en route from Tokyo to Anchorage observed a gigantic mushroom cloud about 180 miles east of Japan. The cloud was moving rapidly up and away from a cloud layer at 14,000 feet. It eventually reached a maximum altitude of about 60,000 feet, at which time its maximum diameter was about 200 miles. No fireball or flash was seen by anyone.

A nuclear explosion, possibly on a submarine was suspected. One pilot issued a Mayday alert and ordered his crew to don oxygen masks. However, when an F-4 Phantom dispatched from Japan arrived at the scene, it detected no abnormal levels of radioactivity. Wake Island hydrophones, to the southeast, detected some submarine volcanic activity far south of the cloud, but no detonations in the area the cloud was spotted. The distance of the volcanic disturbances and the prevailing winds ruled out volcanic sources of smoke. In the absence of any hydrophonic evidence, the authors concluded that the mysterious cloud came either from a man-made atmospheric explosion (a huge one!) or some as yet unknown natural phenomenon.

(Walker, Daniel A., et al; "Kaitoku Seamount and the Mystery Cloud of 9 April 1984," Science, 227:607, 1985.)

Mystery cloud near Japan

From Science Frontiers #38, MAR-APR 1985. 1985-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987