Was this the rumblings of a meteorite impact or earthquake strike? Or something more sinister?
The event has largely remained a mystery, hidden from the general public. Initial investigations claimed that the mysterious Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo was testing sarin gases in the middle of the outback. Others believed it was a natural anomaly such as a meteorite or an earthquake. But the strange series of events and evidence piled up around the cult seems to suggest otherwise.
The seismic activity in the outback pricked the interest of both AUS and US investigators, who believed the explosion was one part of a series of events that led to the poison gas attack in the Tokyo subways in 1995, responsible for killing 12 and injuring a thousand more bystanders.
According to investigators, not only did Aum Shinrikyo attempt to buy nuclear warheads from Russia, they had acquired a 500,000 acre patch of land in the Australian desert to set up a laboratory.
After further investigation, AUS authorities found the cult had been mining uranium essential for making atomic explosives. These odd occurrences prompted a larger scale investigation globally that remains open today.
Aum Shinrikyo, which means ‘Supreme truth,’ first began in Japan in 1984. The group incorporated a mixture of Hindu, Buddhist and later Christian elements. The leader and founder of the cult, Shoko Asahara, proclaimed his status as both Christ and the most “Enlightened one” since Buddha.
The cult gained a significant global following all over the world (50,000 followers in six countries) with many followers being university students, promised a life free from academic pressures. The group, like most cults edged dangerously towards intense paranoia. They became convinced the world would descend into World War 3 and they would be the sole survivors. From a loving accepting gathering, the group turned violent, kidnapping and injuring members of the public until the eventual attack in Tokyo.
So did the cult have the ability to detonate a nuclear weapon in the Australian outback, or was it a natural event like a meteorite or an earthquake?
To determine this, a specific Science inquiry was led to distinguish natural occurrences from nuclear explosions. The seismic scale of the explosion was 170 times larger than that of any mine explosion recorded in the area.
Australian geologist, Harry Mason wrote to senate investigators, October 1995.
“I currently believe that a nuke is a very real possibility but an earthquake cannot be ruled out either,” Mr. Mason said.
The Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology team eventually ruled out the possibility of an atomic explosion, after the signature of the seismic disturbance appeared to have more in common with that of a meteorite or earthquake than that of a nuclear explosion.
It was also made clear after inquiry that the infamous cult was out of the country at the time.
However, neither a crater from meteorite impact or a source for an earthquake have been found in the area, so for all intents and purposes the explosion remains an Australian mystery.
Lead image: National Geographic