List of meteor air bursts

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Many explosions have been recorded in Earth's atmosphere that are likely caused by the air burst that results from a large meteor burning up as it hits the atmosphere. The best known, and most spectacular was the 1908 Tunguska event. Witnesses often describe the appearance of a bolide such as was seen with the 2012 Sutter's Mill meteorite and 2013 Chelyabinsk meteor. Modern developments in infrasound detection by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization and infrared DSP satellite technology have reduced the likelihood of undetected airbursts.

Date Location Coordinates Energy
(TNT equivalent)
Height of explosion Notes
April 4, 1490 (1490-04-04) Qìngyáng district, Shaanxi Province, China The Ch'ing-yang event is a presumed atmospheric entry air burst in the Qìngyáng district of the then-Chinese province of Shaanxi. If a meteor shower did occur, it may have been the result of the disintegration of an asteroid during an atmospheric entry air burst. A large number of deaths were recorded in historical Chinese accounts of the meteor shower.[1][2]
June 30, 1908 (1908-06-30) 60 kilometres (37 mi) west-northwest of Vanavara[3] in Yeniseysk Governorate, Russian Empire 60°53′09″N 101°53′40″E / 60.88583°N 101.89444°E / 60.88583; 101.89444 10–15 megatonnes of TNT (42,000–63,000 TJ) 8.5 km (5.3 mi) Tunguska event (Largest witnessed meteor airburst to date)
November 26, 1919 (1919-11-26) Southern Michigan and Northern Indiana, USA 42°N 86°W / 42°N 86°W / 42; -86 A gigantic meteor was seen approaching from the east. A brilliant flash of light, thunder and an earthquake lasting 3 minutes were reported. Considerable damage to property and broken windows were reported over a very large area as well as disruption to telegraph, telephone and electrical power systems.[4]
August 13, 1930 (1930-08-13) Curuçá River Area, Amazonas, Brazil 5°11′S 71°38′W / 5.183°S 71.633°W / -5.183; -71.633 9–5,000 kilotonnes of TNT (38–20,920 TJ) Generally assumed to be generated by three meteor fragments. An astrobleme of 1 km was found on the ground, but may be related to an older feature.[5][6][7][8][9] It is also known as Brazilian Tunguska or Curuçá Event.[7]
June 24, 1938 (1938-06-24) Chicora, Pennsylvania United States On June 24, 1938 a meteorite fell in the vicinity of Chicora. Named the "Chicora Meteor", the 450+ tonne meteorite exploded approximately twelve miles above the Earth's surface.[10]
April 9, 1941 (1941-04-09) Ural mountains, Katav-Ivanovo district of Chelyabinsk region Russia ru:Катавский болид (Katavsky bolide). Residents of several localities had seen a fireball flying at a high speed in the dark sky, followed by roaring likened to the sound of a speeding steam locomotive. Fragments were left as a result of the event.[citation needed]
February 12, 1947 (1947-02-12) Sikhote-Alin Mountains in eastern Siberia, Primorsky Krai, Russia 46°09′36″N 134°39′12″E / 46.16000°N 134.65333°E / 46.16000; 134.65333 10 kilotonnes of TNT (42 TJ) Sikhote-Alin meteorite. Estimated explosive yield of 10 kt equivalent.[11]
August 3, 1963 (1963-08-03) Approximately 1,900 kilometres (1,200 mi) south of South Africa 51°S 24°E / 51°S 24°E / -51; 24 176–356 kilotonnes of TNT (740–1,490 TJ) A bolide was detected infrasonically approximately 1,100 kilometres (680 mi) west-south-west of the Prince Edward Islands off the coast of South Africa by a U.S. government instrument network designed to detect atmospheric explosions.[12]
March 31, 1965 (1965-03-31) Revelstoke, British Columbia 0.6 kilotonnes of TNT (2.5 TJ) 13 km (8 mi) 1 g (0.035 oz) material from meteorite found. Sometimes placed in Southeastern Canada on May 31.[13]
September 17, 1966 (1966-09-17) Lake Huron, MichiganOntario 0.6 kilotonnes of TNT (2.5 TJ) 13 km (8 mi) No material from meteorite found. Photographed bolide body.[14]
February 5, 1967 (1967-02-05) Vilna, Alberta 0.6 kilotonnes of TNT (2.5 TJ) 13 km (8 mi) Two very small fragments found - 48 milligrams (0.0017 oz) and 94 milligrams (0.0033 oz). Stored at University of Alberta, in Edmonton.[15] Photographed.[16]
January 19, 1993 (1993-01-19) Lugo, Northern Italy >10 kilotonnes of TNT (42 TJ) 30 km Superbolide airburst caused by the breakup of a low density meteoroid traveling at approximately 26 km/s.[17]
January 18, 1994 (1994-01-18) Cando, Spain Cando event. A bolide at 7:15 UT that was 1,000 times less energetic than the Tunguska event.
February 1, 1994 (1994-02-01) 300 km south of Kosrae, Micronesia 2°36′N 164°06′E / 2.6°N 164.1°E / 2.6; 164.1 11 kilotonnes of TNT (46 TJ) 21–34 km (13–21 mi) Marshall Islands fireball (4–14 meters in diameter). Two fragments exploded at 34 km and 21 km of altitude. This impact was observed by space based infrared (IR) sensors operated by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and by visible wavelength sensors operated by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).[18]
December 9, 1997 (1997-12-09) 150 km south of Nuuk, Greenland 62°54′N 50°06′W / 62.900°N 50.100°W / 62.900; -50.100 >0.064 kilotonnes of TNT (0.27 TJ) >25 km (16 mi) One airburst at 46 km, three more breakups detected between 25 and 30 km. No remains found so far. Yield only based on luminosity, i.e. the total energy might have been considerably larger.[19]
November 8, 1999 (1999-11-08) Northern Germany 1.5 kt Detected by the Deelen Infrasound Array in the Netherlands[20]
January 18, 2000 (2000-01-18) over Whitehorse, Yukon 60°43′N 135°03′W / 60.717°N 135.050°W / 60.717; -135.050 1.7 kiloton[21] One airburst at ~08:00, fragments recovered on Tagish Lake.[22]
April 23, 2001 (2001-04-23) North Pacific Ocean few kt Infrasound detection.[23] Meteor estimated to be 2–3 meters in diameter.[24] Occurred 1,800 km away from the Scripps detector.
June 6, 2002 (2002-06-06) Mediterranean Sea, 230 km north-northeast of Benghazi, Libya 34°N 21°E / 34°N 21°E / 34; 21 12–26 kilotonnes of TNT (50–109 TJ)[21][25][26] Eastern Mediterranean event
September 25, 2002 (2002-09-25) The Vitim River basin near the town of Bodaybo, Irkutsk Oblast, Russia 58°16′N 113°27′E / 58.27°N 113.45°E / 58.27; 113.45 0.2–2 kilotonnes of TNT (0.84–8.37 TJ) 30 km Vitim event or Bodaybo event[27]
September 3, 2004 (2004-09-03) 200 km offshore Queen Maud Land, Antarctica 69°S 27°E / 69°S 27°E / -69; 27 12 kilotonnes of TNT (50 TJ) 28–30 km (17–19 mi) Asteroid 7–10 meters in diameter. Coordinates are for dust trail observed an hour after event by NASA's Aqua satellite. Event was observed also by military satellites and by infrasound stations. Dust was observed 7 hours after event by LIDAR in Davis Station.[28]
October 7, 2004 (2004-10-07) Indian Ocean 10–20 kilotons Infrasound detection[23]
December 9, 2006 (2006-12-09) Egypt 10–20 kilotons Infrasound detection[23]
September 28, 2007 (2007-09-28) Northern Ostrobothnia, Finland 40 km (25 mi) Superbolide that was observed as far as northern Lapland.[29] Meteoritic material was suspected to have landed southeast of Oulu but none has been found.[citation needed]
October 7, 2008 (2008-10-07) Nubian Desert, Sudan 20°48′00″N 32°12′00″E / 20.80000°N 32.20000°E / 20.80000; 32.20000 0.9–2.1 kilotonnes of TNT (3.8–8.8 TJ) 37 km (23 mi) 2008 TC3, the first asteroid detected before impacting Earth.
October 8, 2009 (2009-10-08) coastal region of Bone Regency in South Sulawesi, Indonesia 04°30′00″S 120°00′00″E / 4.50000°S 120.00000°E / -4.50000; 120.00000 31–50 kilotonnes of TNT (130–210 TJ) 25 km (16 mi) 2009 Sulawesi superbolide. No meteoritic material found (most likely fell into the ocean).[30] Occurred ~03:00 UTC; ~11:00 local time.[30]
November 21, 2009 (2009-11-21) Zimbabwe 22°00′S 29°12′E / 22.0°S 29.2°E / -22.0; 29.2 18 kt 38 km (24 mi) Impacted going 32.1 km/s (19.9 mi/s).[31] There were 56 witnesses of the bolide and two seismic recorder detections.[32]
September 3, 2010 (2010-09-03) South Pacific Ocean >20 kilotons Infrasound detection[23]
December 25, 2010 (2010-12-25) North Pacific Ocean 38°00′N 158°00′E / 38.0°N 158.0°E / 38.0; 158.0 33 kt 26 km (16 mi)[31]
April 22, 2012 (2012-04-22) air burst centered near La Grange, California 37°6′N 120°5′W / 37.100°N 120.083°W / 37.100; -120.083 4 kilotonnes of TNT (17 TJ) [33] 30–47 km [34] Sutter's Mill meteorite. Numerous fragments from object recovered. Analysis determined it was a Carbonaceous chondrite.
February 15, 2013 (2013-02-15) near Chelyabinsk, Russia 54°30′N 61°30′E / 54.500°N 61.500°E / 54.500; 61.500 500 kilotonnes of TNT (2,100 TJ) [35] Estimated 30–50 km [36] Chelyabinsk meteor[37] (Largest meteor airburst known since Tunguska in 1908)
April 21, 2013 (2013-04-21) Argentina 28°06′S 64°36′W / 28.1°S 64.6°W / -28.1; -64.6 2.5 kt 40.7 km (25.3 mi)[31] The bolide was captured on video at a Los Tekis rock concert.[38]
April 30, 2013 (2013-04-30) North Atlantic Ocean 35°30′N 30°42′W / 35.5°N 30.7°W / 35.5; -30.7 10–20 kilotons 21.2 km (13.2 mi) Infrasound detection.[23] Largest airburst event since Chelyabinsk.[31]
November 26, 2013 (2013-11-26) heard in Montreal, Ottawa, and New York state[39][40][41][42] < 1 tonne of TNT (< 4.2 GJ)[43] Montreal bolide
January 2, 2014 (2014-01-02) mid-Atlantic Ocean 11°42′N 40°18′W / 11.7°N 40.3°W / 11.7; -40.3 2014 AA, the second asteroid detected before Earth impact.[44]
February 18, 2014 (2014-02-18) Argentina 32°48′S 61°30′W / 32.8°S 61.5°W / -32.8; -61.5 0.1 kt[31] Even though this was a low-energy event, there were reports of windows/buildings shaking.[45]
May 8, 2014 (2014-05-08) South Indian Ocean 36°54′S 87°18′E / 36.9°S 87.3°E / -36.9; 87.3 2.4 kt 35.4 km (22.0 mi)[31] 2nd largest airburst of 2014.
June 26, 2014 (2014-06-26) Antarctica 71°30′S 93°24′E / 71.5°S 93.4°E / -71.5; 93.4 0.2 kt 28.5 km (17.7 mi)[31]
August 23, 2014 (2014-08-23) Southern Ocean 61°42′S 132°36′E / 61.7°S 132.6°E / -61.7; 132.6 7.6 kt 22.2 km (13.8 mi)[31] Largest airburst of 2014 and 2nd largest since Chelyabinsk.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Yau, K., Weissman, P., & Yeomans, D. Meteorite Falls In China And Some Related Human Casualty Events, Meteoritics, Vol. 29, No. 6, pp. 864-871, ISSN: 0026-1114, bibliographic code: 1994Metic..29..864Y.
  2. ^ Death from above in ancient China, Sky & Telescope, March 1995, Vol. 89, Iss. 3, p. 15, ISSN: 00376604.
  3. ^ Traynor, Chris (1997). "The Tunguska Event". Journal of the British Astronomical Association 107 (3). 
  4. ^ The Washington Times (Washington, D.C.) 1919 Nov 27 page 1b
  5. ^ "Curuça 1930: A probable mini-Tunguska?". Bibcode:2011P&SS...59...10C. doi:10.1016/j.pss.2010.10.012. 
  6. ^ No. 1102: METEORITE AT CURUÇA By John H. Lienhard The Engines of Our Ingenuity
  7. ^ a b THE EVENT NEAR THE CURUÇÁ RIVER. 67th Annual Meteoritical Society Meeting (2004)
  8. ^ The Day the Earth Trembled by John McFarland Armagh Observatory
  9. ^ http://www.comciencia.br/reportagens/espaco/espc17.htm
  10. ^ http://triblive.com/state/pennsylvania/3495296-74/meteor-chicora-1938
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ "Estimates of meteoroid kinetic energies from observations of infrasonic airwaves" Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 68 (2006) pages 1136–1160 [2]
  13. ^ Kusky, Timothy M.; Katherine E. Cullen (2010). Encyclopedia of Earth and space science. New York, NY: Facts on File. p. 147. ISBN 1438128592. 
  14. ^ Halliday, Ian (December 1966). "The Bolide of September 17, 1966". Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada 60: 257. 
  15. ^ Grady, Monica (2000). Catalogue of Meteorites. Cambridge University Press. p. 514. ISBN 9780521663038. 
  16. ^ Folinsbee, R. E.; Bayrock, L. A.; Cumming, G. L.; Smith, D. G. W. "Vilna Meteorite-Camera, Visual, Seismic and Analytic Records". Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada 63: 61. 
  17. ^ The spectacular airburst over (Lugo) Italy on January 19, 1993
  18. ^ Tagliaferri, E.; Spalding, R.; Jacobs, C.; Ceplecha, Z. (1995). "Analysis of the Marshall Islands Fireball of February 1, 1994". Earth, Moon, and Planets 68 (1–3): 563–572. Bibcode:1995EM&P...68..563T. doi:10.1007/BF00671553. 
  19. ^ Greenland meteor at goes.gsfc.nasa.gov
  20. ^ July 2002 Asteroid/Comet News
  21. ^ a b Brown, P.; Spalding, R. E.; ReVelle, D. O.; Tagliaferri, E.; Worden, S. P. (2002). "The flux of small near-Earth objects colliding with the Earth". Nature 420 (6913): 294–296. doi:10.1038/nature01238. PMID 12447433.  (table #1)
  22. ^ January 18, 2000 Yukon/Northern BC Fireball (The Tagish Lake Meteorite)
  23. ^ a b c d e B612 list of infrasound detections from 2000-2013
  24. ^ "Low sounds detect meteor blast". 2001-09-03. 
  25. ^ Near-Earth objects dangerous, general says BBC News, September 9, 2002.
  26. ^ Cambridge Conference Correspondence. Asteroids 'could spark a nuclear war'
  27. ^ "CCNet 55/2003 - 10 July 2003". Cambridge Conference Network archive. Retrieved 2014-05-02. 
  28. ^ Cosmic hole-in-one: capturing dust from a meteoroid's fiery demise Australian Antarctic Magazine, issue 8 Autumn 2005
  29. ^ http://yle.fi/uutiset/super-meteor_lights_up_northern_sky/5803349
  30. ^ a b Yeomans, Don et al. "Asteroid Impactor Reported over Indonesia". Near Earth Object Program Office. NASA-NEOP. Retrieved 16 February 2013. 
  31. ^ a b c d e f g h Fireball and Bolide Reports (JPL)
  32. ^ T P Cooper (June 2011). "Fireball and Bolide Observations; 2009-2010" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-09-22. 
  33. ^ http://www.rgj.com/article/20120423/NEWS/304230032/Scientist-says-sound-signal-from-exploding-meteor-lasted-18-minutes
  34. ^ http://science.kqed.org/quest/2012/12/20/stardust-and-sunbreath-in-the-sutters-mill-meteorite/
  35. ^ http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-061
  36. ^ "Meteorite strikes central Russia, hundreds injured". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). 2013-02-15. 
  37. ^ Shurmina, Natalia; Kuzmin, Andrey. "Meteorite hits central Russia, more than 500 people hurt". Reuters. Retrieved February 15, 2013. 
  38. ^ Bright Meteor Rocks Argentina Rock Concert
  39. ^ "Meteor strike in Quebec? Bright flash of light and loud boom widely reported". 2013-11-27. Archived from the original on 2013-11-27. Retrieved 2013-11-29. 
  40. ^ "Meteor in Quebec, Ontario". 2013-11-28. Retrieved 2013-11-29. Jaymie Matthews, professor of astrophysics at the University of British Columbia, says a meteor was likely the cause of a strange boom heard Tuesday night in Quebec and Ontario 
  41. ^ "Massive blast heard near Quebec, Ontario border likely a meteor: expert". 2013-11-26. Archived from the original on 2013-11-27. Retrieved 2013-11-29. "[...] This has the hallmark of a meteor blast," said Andrew Fazekas, a spokesman with the Montreal Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. 
  42. ^ "'Huge flash of blue light' spotted around Montreal, Ottawa most likely a meteor". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). 2013-11-27. Archived from the original on 2013-11-27. Retrieved 2013-11-29. Reports have come from throughout the Ottawa region, through Montreal, Laval, and as far south as upper New York state, near the city of Plattsburgh, he said. There have been no reports of damage. 
  43. ^ Anne Sutherland (2013-11-28). "Mystery of Tuesday’s big boom near Montreal solved". montrealgazette.com. Retrieved 2014-02-28. 
  44. ^ The First Discovered Asteroid of 2014 Collides With The Earth - An Update
  45. ^ "Scientists probe meteor link to Argentina explosion". Phys.org. 2014-02-18.  INERC

Further reading[edit]

  • Brown, P. G.; Assink, J. D.; Astiz, L.; Blaauw, R.; Boslough, M. B.; Borovička, J.; Brachet, N.; Brown, D.; Campbell-Brown, M.; Ceranna, L.; Cooke, W.; de Groot-Hedlin, C.; Drob, D. P.; Edwards, W.; Evers, L. G.; Garces, M.; Gill, J.; Hedlin, M.; Kingery, A.; Laske, G.; Le Pichon, A.; Mialle, P.; Moser, D. E.; Saffer, A.; Silber, E.; Smets, P.; Spalding, R. E.; Spurný, P.; Tagliaferri, E. et al. (2013). "A 500-kiloton airburst over Chelyabinsk and an enhanced hazard from small impactors". Nature 503 (7475): 238–241. Bibcode:2013Natur.503..238B. doi:10.1038/nature12741. 
  • Yau, Kevin; Weissman, Paul; Yeomans, Donald (1994). "Meteorite falls in China and some related human casualty events". Meteoritics 29 (6): 864–871. Bibcode:1994Metic..29..864Y. doi:10.1111/j.1945-5100.1994.tb01101.x. ISSN 0026-1114. 

External links[edit]