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No. 50: Mar-Apr 1987

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More On The Soviet Plume Events

A recent issue of Eos, published by the American Geophysical Union, presents some amazing and at the same time unsettling photographs of immense plumes taken by satellites passing over Soviet Arctic islands. Eleven such events are tabulated from October 12, 1980, to June 12, 1986. Perhaps the most dramatic event occurred on March 12, 1982, over Novaya Zemlya. The picture shows a sharply etched tongue of cold vapor arcing some 175 kilometers at a maximum altitude of 9.5-10 kilometers. As with most of the plumes, movement of the vapor does not correspond to wind direction. Volcanic activity and natural methane gas releases are considered unlikely explanations. Since the islands involved are used for Soviet weapons tests, the plumes may be due to some incredibly energetic devices, although no radioactive releases or seismic activity seem correlated with the plume appearances. Queries to Soviet scientists have gone unanswered.

(Anonymous; "Large Plume Events in the Soviet Arctic," Eos, 67:1372, 1986.)

From Science Frontiers #50, MAR-APR 1987. 1987-2000 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