An unexplained hole has formed on Siberia’s Yamal Peninsula. The crater has formed in a specifically gas-rich area, the name of which actually translates to the “end of the world.”
An expedition to the crater has been organised by the Yamal authorities. The team includes two experts from the Centre for the Study of the Arctic and one from Cryosphere Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
According to the Siberian Times, initial reports and images were suspected to be fakes, but the new images taken by Russian engineer Konstantin Nikolaev suggests it’s very much real. The feature is thought to have formed about two years ago.
Scientist have posited a number of theories to explain the crater, though it’s not likely to have been caused by a meteorite impact, nor does it exhibit the features of a sinkhole. One website claims that it’s evidence “of the arrival of a UFO craft” to Earth. But there are at least two other — and far more plausible — explanations worth considering.
University of New South Wales polar scientist Chris Fogwill says it’s probably a geological phenomenon known as a collapsed pingo, or hydrolaccolith. As the Sydney Morning Herald reports, a pingo is a block of ice that’s grown into a small hill in the frozen arctic ground:
The ice can eventually push through the earth and when it melts away it leaves an exposed crater. Dr Fogwill says the permafrost [frozen earth] can be hundreds of metres thick, allowing for large ice features.
“It’s just a remarkable land form.
“This is obviously a very extreme version of that, and if there’s been any interaction with the gas in the area, that is a question that could only be answered by going there,” Dr Fogwill said.
An Ignited Mixture
Another explanation has been posited by Anna Kurchatova from Russia’s Sub-Arctic Scientific Research Center. She believes the crater was formed by a water, salt, and gas mixture that ignited an underground explosion, also the result of global warming.
Both scientists seem believe the hole has been caused by global warming and that we can expect to see more of this type of activity in the future. I’ll be sure to write an update when the cause is actually determined.