Professor Vasily Bogoyavlensky, a respected Moscow scientist, is calling for an “urgent” investigation amid safety fears.
Using satellite images has helped the Russian experts understand that the craters are more widespread than was first realized, with one large hole surrounded by as many as 20 mini-craters. Bogoyavlensky said: “We know now of seven craters in the Arctic area. Five are directly on the Yamal Peninsula, one in Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District, and one is on the north of the Krasnoyarsk Krai, near the Taymyr Peninsula.”
See amazing new images of this newly formed mysterious Siberian crater:
“We have exact locations for only four of them. The other three were spotted by reindeer herders. But I am sure that there are more craters on Yamal, we just need to search for them. I would compare this with mushrooms: When you find one mushroom, be sure there are few more around. I suppose there could be 20 to 30 craters more,” The Siberian Times reported.
Andrei Plekhanov, an archaeologist at the Scientific Center of Arctic Studies in Salekhard, Russia, said that near the bottom of the crater, it contains unusually high concentrations of methane, up to 9.6% in tests conducted at the site. Andrei Plekhanov led an expedition to the crater and said that air normally contains just 0.000179% methane.
Plekhanov and his team believe that it is linked to the abnormally hot Yamal summers of 2012 and 2013, which were warmer than usual by an average of about 5°C. As temperatures rose, the researchers suggest, permafrost thawed and collapsed, releasing methane that had been trapped in the icy ground, reported Nature.com.
Nature.com went on to say that other researchers argue that long-term global warming might be to blame, and that a slow and steady thaw in the region could have been enough to free a burst of methane and create such a big crater. Over the past 20 years, permafrost at a depth of 20 meters has warmed by about 2°C, driven by rising air temperatures, notes Hans-Wolfgang Hubberten, a geochemist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam, Germany.
Here are scientists investigating a mysterious giant hole in Siberia:
Gas hydrates usually are not present until a depth of at least 100 meters. Although the depth of the Siberian crater is unknown at this stage, Plekhanov and his team did try to measure the depth by lowering a video camera into it. The rope was only 50 meters long and did not reach the bottom. The footage found that it was approximately 70 meters to a pool of water, but how far it goes beyond that, no one knows.
“If a release happens at the Bovanenkovskoye gas field that is only 30 km away, it could lead to an accident, and the same if it happens in a village,” says Plekhanov. Scientists are now suggesting that by drilling holes into the permafrost, they may be able to release the pressure artificially.
Are these mysterious craters due to climate change?
I’m not sure, but there is a good chance of it.