Pictures give first glimpse into mystery crater

This giant crater found in far northern Siberia is believed to have been caused by rising temperatures in the area - not a meteorite. (Siberian Times)

Initial pictures taken by scientists have provided the first glimpse into the mysterious hole that appeared in Russia last week.

Earlier, rather flamboyant, theories pointed to aliens, a meteorite, a stray missile, or an explosive gas cocktail released due to global warming.

However the crater – with a depth of 70 meters and about 30 meters in diameter – is now thought to have been caused by rising temperatures or huge ice-melt.

 A team of Russian scientists recently returned from the crater to study its formation and take photo evidence to further their investigation.

russian scientist observes crater in siberia

russian scientist observes crater in siberia

Andrey Plekhanov, senior researcher at the Russian Scientific Centre of Arctic Research, announced that satellite mapping imagery is being employed to confirm when the phenomenon was formed, thought to be in the last year or two.

“The crater has more of an oval than a circular shape, it makes it harder to calculate the exact diameter,” he said.

The formation is so delicate that the scientists could not scramble down into the lake and had to send a camera down instead.
One theory is that the hole is a ‘pingo,’ reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

A pingo is a large chunk of ice that is situated underground that can create a hole in the earth when it melts.

crater edge

crater edge

“Certainly from the images I’ve seen it looks like a periglacial feature, perhaps a collapsed pingo,” Dr Chris Fogwill of the University of New South Wales said.

Dr Plekhanov explained that the feature was most probably the result of a “build-up of excessive pressure underground, due to the region's changing temperatures.”

He said 80 per cent of the crater seemed to be made up of ice and that there were no evidence of an explosion.
The discovery excludes the prospect that a meteorite had hit the region.

yamal peninsula

yamal peninsula

Yamal, inhabited by indigenous reindeer herders, is one of Russia's richest regions in natural gas. The hole was found near the Bovanentsky gas field, which led to earlier speculation that it could have been caused by an underground explosion.

The crater is unlike others on Yamal. Experts say the phenomenon maybe the rekindling of a process not seen for 8,000 years when the lake-pocked Yamal landscape was shaped on what was once a sea.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:44 - GMT 06:44