- A team from a TV-station in Yamal accidentally spotted a massive crater from the air.
- The huge hole is at least 164 feet deep, and is the 17th crater found in Siberia’s arctic tundra since 2014.
- Experts believe that these funnels resulted from methane gas build up in the ground, which consequently led to its explosion.
In July, the Vesti Yamal TV crew, who were en route from an unrelated assignment, spotted an enormous hole in northern Siberia.
Scientists have then gone to the site to investigate. According to them, this newly formed 164 feet deep funnel is the 17th crater that suddenly appeared in the region since 2014.
“What we saw today is striking in its size and grandeur,” says Dr. Evgeny Chuvilin, leading researcher at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology.
“These are the colossal forces of nature that create such objects,” said Dr. Chuvilin, according to The Siberian Times.
Scientists call these craters hydroaccoliths or bulgunnyakhs.
This hydroaccolith, which scientists numbered the 17th, is also ‘the most impressive’ according to the article.
Professor Vasily Bogoyavlensky of the Russian Oil and Gas Research Institute in Moscow told Vesti Yamal that the said object is unique.
“It carries a lot of additional scientific information, which I am not yet ready to disclose,” he said. “This is a subject for scientific publications. We have to analyze all this, and build three-dimensional models.”
These hydroaccoliths first appeared on the remote Yamal Peninsula in the summer of 2014.
More craters have been found over the years.
Scientists suggest that these huge craters formed via a massive methane gas explosion, a process called Cryovolcanism.
Methane is also a potent greenhouse gas, which has more ‘warming power’ than carbon dioxide, IFL Science reported.
Occasionally, it gets trapped in cryopegs or pockets of unfrozen ground and eventually builds up pressure. When permafrost–rocky soil or sediment that’s typically frozen–simultaneously begins to thaw, the ground weakens and becomes unstable, thus resulting in huge explosions.
Due to climate change, the permafrost in the arctic region is becoming increasingly unstable.
According to Newsweek, it is thought that this instability may be the reason why scientists are seeing more hydroaccoliths.
The ground swells before it blows up.
This ‘swelling’ has been identified in over 700 sites in 2017, The Siberian Times reported.
Explosions have occurred in swelling pingos as well. Pingos are dome-shaped hills in the tundra, which erupts when gas builds up under a thick ice cap.
The researchers are still conducting studies to further understand and identify the real cause of these formations.
“As of now, there is no exhaustive theory for the formation of these craters,” Dr. Chuvilin told Newsweek in an email.
“So far they have been forming in remote and uninhabited places,” says Chuvilin. “But if that changes, they would pose a threat to infrastructure.”
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