A mysterious gigantic sinkhole has opened up in the peninsula of Yamal, a place which locals call the 'end of the world', Siberia, northern Russia. It was originally thought to be a fake, but the hole has been established as a real phenomenon and is thought to have been formed around two years ago.
The sinkhole appeared close to a forest some 30 kilometers from Yamal's biggest gas field Bovanenkovo. It is approximately 80 meters wide (about 262 feet), and is probably the biggest sinkhole ever spotted in the country. It could also be one of the deepest ever recorded in the world.
A scientific expedition organized by the Yamal authorities arrived at the scene today. It includes two experts from the Centre for the Study of the Arctic, one from Cryosphere Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and a specialist from the Emergencies Ministry. They plan to take samples of soil, air and water from the scene.
That's about all the information we have at this time. Speculations of what caused the phenomenon have already started circulating. They include a meteorite hitting the earth, collapsing rock, global warming and a crashed UFO.
A spokesman for the ministry's Yamal branch ruled out a meteorite but said it was too early to say what cause it.
The Yamal Peninsula in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug is a strategic oil and gas bearing region of Russia. It is Russia's main production area for gas and the Bovanenkovo field is of central importance to gas supplies from Siberia to the world.
The most plausible explanation so far is a collapsed “pingo”, and these new pictures and video from the Siberian Times suggest it probably is. The pictures below from Parks Canada show similar structures in the process of collapse. For those that want to blame the collapse on “global warming” you might also note it is summer in Yamal, and melting ice is a regular and expected occurrence. (WUWT)
Methane at the bottom
According to a recent Nature article, “air near the bottom of the crater contained unusually high concentrations of methane — up to 9.6% — in tests conducted at the site on 16 July, says Andrei Plekhanov, an archaeologist at the Scientific Centre of Arctic Studies in Salekhard, Russia. Plekhanov, who led an expedition to the crater, says that air normally contains just 0.000179% methane.”
The scientist said the methane release may be related to Yamal’s unusually hot summers in 2012 and 2013, which were warmer by an average of 5 degrees Celsius. “As temperatures rose, the researchers suggest, permafrost thawed and collapsed, releasing methane that had been trapped in the icy ground,” the report stated.
Plekhanov explained to Nature that the conclusion is preliminary. He would like to study how much methane is contained in the air trapped inside the crater’s walls. Such a task, however, could be difficult. “Its rims are slowly melting and falling into the crater,” the researcher told the science publication. “You can hear the ground falling, you can hear the water running; it’s rather spooky.” (WP)
Source, video and featured image: SiberianTimes