The Tunguska event in 1908: Evidence from tree-ring anatomy

Evgenii A. Vaganov, Malcolm K. Hughes, Pavel P. Silkin, Valery D. Nesvetailo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


We analyzed tree rings in wood samples collected from some of the few surviving trees found close to the epicenter (within 4-5 km) of the Tunguska event that occurred on the last day of June 1908. Tree-ring growth shows a depression starting in the year after the event and continuing during a 4-5-year period. The most remarkable traces of the event were found in the rings' anatomical structure: (1) formation of "light" rings and a reduction of maximum density in 1908; (2) non-thickened tracheids (the cells that make up most of the wood volume) in the transition and latewood zones (the middle and last-formed parts of the ring, respectively); and (3) deformed tracheids, which are located on the 1908 annual ring outer boundary. In the majority of samples, normal earlywood and latewood tracheids were formed in all annual rings after 1908. The observed anomalies in wood anatomy suggest two main impacts of the Tunguska event on surviving trees - (1) defoliation and (2) direct mechanical stress on active xylem tissue. The mechanical stress needed to fell trees is less than the stress needed to cause the deformation of differentiating tracheids observed in trees close to the epicenter. In order to resolve this apparent contradiction, work is suggested on possible topographic modification of the overpressure experienced by these trees, as is an experimental test of the effects of such, stresses on precisely analogous growing trees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-399
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2004


  • Deformed tracheids
  • June 1908
  • Pressure on trees
  • Tree rings
  • Tunguska event

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The Tunguska event in 1908: Evidence from tree-ring anatomy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this