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No. 93: May-Jun 1994

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Strange explosions at sasovo, in russia

Some most peculiar phenomena have occurred recently about 200 miles southeast of Moscow. Discussioms have appeared in Russian publications, but we have not yet seen anything in the English-language journals. These phenomena have a bearing on the still-enigmatic Tunguska event of 1908 -- customarily attributed to a celestial projectile of some sort -- and perhaps even those bizarre "cookie-cutter" holes found in the U.S., Canada, Norway, and elsewhere. One of our Russian correspodents has summarized what is known about the Sasovo explosions, and we are pleased to be able to present part of his (lightly edited) letter here:

"On April 12, 1991, a strange explosion took place near the Russian town of Sasova (350 km to the southeast of Moscow). After the explosion, a crater, diameter about 30 m and depth 3m, was found. At first, several ideas about its nature were proposed, but now almost all of them are abandoned, except one: that it was a tectonic (endogenic, to be exact) origin. This is proved by geophysical research in the region and a secondary, weaker explosion (a crater also appeared) taking place in 1992 in a sparsely populated area about 9 km away from the first one. For some years before the explosions, there were signs of increased tectonic activity in the region: a great number of 'fireballs' and so-called UFOs, evidence of slow ground deformation, and so on. For about several hours before the 1991 explosion, in many places, people saw numerous 'fireballs,' often accompanied by rumbling and even ground vibrations. In many houses, animals began to be anxious. Some people felt ill. Railroad communication devices failed. About 1 minute before the explosion, noise appeared in broadcast radio receivers, this soon jammed all radio stations. At a distance of up to several hundred kilometers from the epicenter, some people said that they felt a "heat wave" and suffocation. Near the epicenter, a bright flash with a duration of several seconds and an explosion (thunder and ground shock) took place. (According to some reports. at first a 'glowing object' flew down to the ground.) Probably light phenomena were present at some other places.

"The 1991 Sasovo explosion was accompanied by a number of intri-guing phenomena, sometimes resembling (ball) lightning and even tornado damage. There was some unusual and selective damage in the town and even in the village 20 km from the epicenter. Azimuth distribution of hurled frozen soil from the crater and damage had four lobes. But, on the other hand, a tree 10 m from the epicenter was undamaged. There was no damage on the ground level at a distance up to about 1 km from the crater (only ground swing and jerking), but several high suspended electric wires were torn off. At large distances, there was unusual damage at the ground level, and even water pipes at a distance up to 15 km from the epicenter were torn off. During the explosion, in closed and undamaged rooms, in most cases different things flew with soft landings, and even some people were transported by a unknown force. Hollow plastic toys and electric lamp bulbs exploded. Inner windows were smashed while outer ones were undamaged. At a distance of about 10 km from the main crater, two more pits in the ground appeared simultaneously with the main crater. Soil was hurled, and there were light phenomena."

(Ol'khovatov, A. Yu.; personal communication, March 1994. Russian references cited by Ol'khovatov were: Izvestiya, p. 8, November 17, 1993; and Izv. AN USSR Earth Phys, 27:606, 1991.)

From Science Frontiers #93, MAY-JUN 1994. 1994-2000 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