A helicopter flying over a region of Sibera referred to as the “end of the world,” recorded footage of a mysterious, giant crater in the middle of the ground estimated to be 260 feet in diameter.
At first, skeptical observers thought the images must be a fake. After all, it appears to be something out a summer science fiction blockbuster, with the giant hole appearing to descend infinitely below the surface.
But Russian officials confirmed the crater’s existence and say they are sending a team of experts to investigate the site located in an area known as the Yamal peninsula. Scientists from the Center for the Study of the Arctic and the Cryosphere Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences plan to take samples from around the scene.
So, what is responsible for the giant crater?
Experts say it’s probably not the result of a giant meteor crash or a sinkhole, even though Siberia was home to the famous Tunguska Explosion of 1908.
The leading theory is that the crater is actually a natural phenomenon known as a ‘pingo.’ A pingo, or hydrolaccolith, occurs when ice pushes up from underneath the ground. In this case, climate change may have caused the ice to melt, resulting in a crater where the earth-covered frost once stood.
A number of observers point out that the crater was discovered less than 20 miles from one of Russia’s largest gas fields, leading to speculation that an underground explosion could have been responsible.
“It’s just a remarkable land form,” University of New South Wales polar scientist Dr. Chris Fogwill, who believes the landmark is a pingo, told the Sydney Morning Herald. “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.”
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- Nature & Environment