What created this huge crater in Siberia?

Jul 17, 2014 by Jason Major, Universe Today
n 80-meter-wide crater recently discovered in northern Siberia (video screenshot)

What is it with Russia and explosive events of cosmic origins? The 1908 Tunguska Explosion, the Chelyabinsk bolide of February 2013, and now this: an enormous 80-meter wide crater discovered in the Yamal peninsula in northern Siberia!

To be fair, this is not currently thought to be from a but rather an eruption from below, possibly the result of a rapid release of gas trapped in what was once frozen permafrost. The Yamal region is rich in oil and , and the crater is located 30 km away from its largest gas field. Still, a team of researchers are en route to investigate the mysterious hole further.

Watch a video captured by engineer Konstantin Nikolaev during a helicopter flyover below.

In the video the Yamal crater/hole has what appear to be streams of dry material falling into it. Its depth has not yet been determined.

Bill Chappell writes on NPR's "The Two-Way":

"The list of possible natural explanations for the giant hole includes a meteorite strike and a gas explosion, or possibly an eruption of underground ice."

Dark material around the inner edge of the hole seems to suggest high temperatures during its formation. But rather than the remains of a violent impact by a space rock—or the crash-landing of a UFO, as some have already speculated—this crater may be a particularly explosive result of .

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

According to The Siberian Times:

"Anna Kurchatova from Sub-Arctic Scientific Research Centre thinks the crater was formed by a water, salt and gas mixture igniting an underground explosion, the result of global warming. She postulates that accumulated in ice mixed with sand beneath the surface, and that this was mixed with salt – some 10,000 years ago this area was a sea."

The crater is thought to have formed sometime in 2012.

Explore further: Ancient crater points to massive meteorite strike

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User comments : 30

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cantdrive85
1.5 / 5 (16) Jul 17, 2014
this crater may be a particularly explosive result of global warming.


Really, what can't global warming do?
Pexeso
1.4 / 5 (11) Jul 17, 2014
A pretty round & deep one.. A strangelet impactor? Compare this artifact, also from Siberia..
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (5) Jul 17, 2014
TO speculate that this is indeed a resultant artifact of global warming - with nothing more than a "helicopter fly-over" - is disingenuous, at the very least.
Internally produced? Prob'ly..
But, I think I'd want to wait on a conclusion until a few more data bits are in....
rockwolf1000
4.7 / 5 (15) Jul 17, 2014
this crater may be a particularly explosive result of global warming.


Really, what can't global warming do?


Well it can't make you post logical and cogent remarks that's for sure.
DoieaS
1 / 5 (11) Jul 17, 2014
Regarding the global warming, one doesn't need to be a very clever for to believe in Arrhenius theory. Only real experts can find a hole in its seemingly unbeatable reasoning. That is to say, many opponents of AGW or evolutionary theory are actually well educated people, who understand their stuff pretty well and they can see the controversies of existing theories clearly under situation, when most of blind parrots don't even realize, such a controversies do exist. Of course, many arguments of mainstream opponents are often biased with their stance as well. Unfortunately, being a expert doesn't mean, you cannot be biased in your stance - it actually implies it. If you deal with some particular stance for many years, you will become expert in it - but you will become dependent on it both psychologically, both economically too.
Dr_toad
Jul 17, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
howhot2
3.4 / 5 (5) Jul 17, 2014
Its like I've been saying; this is only the beginning of the effects of Global Warming. More surprises are coming.
Scroofinator
2.4 / 5 (5) Jul 18, 2014
Internally produced? Prob'ly..

That's my take too. It looks like an explosion, but the inner sides of the crater are way too smooth along the bottom, almost there was a structure previously built in there. Secret Russian base?
Captain Stumpy
3.7 / 5 (6) Jul 18, 2014
Internally produced? Prob'ly
That's my take too. It looks like an explosion, but the inner sides of the crater are way too smooth along the bottom, almost there was a structure previously built in there. Secret Russian base?
it could also be a subterranean vault or cave, or a recently excavated spot due to a combination of the explosion and the mixing of water causing settling or sinking like a sink hole...
Mostly it looks like a collapsed dome from a cave under the hole.

I thought those straight sides were very interesting too.
I also wondered if there were something hidden beneath that is just now exposed ...
cantdrive85
1.8 / 5 (5) Jul 18, 2014
The "streams of dry material" falling in the crater is likely a big clue.
Ghostt
4 / 5 (4) Jul 18, 2014
this crater may be a particularly explosive result of global warming.


Really, what can't global warming do?


"Science trolls". Perhaps the silliest-looking trolls on the Internet.
alfsen
1.7 / 5 (3) Jul 18, 2014
Rumor is that the Russians are using explosives for fracking purposes. The hole is near a natural gas field. Perhaps someone misjudged the amount of explosive to use?
Dr_toad
Jul 18, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (4) Jul 18, 2014
I've seen blowouts from too much explosive close up, and that ain't one.

A couple of the "data bits" I referred to earlier might be depth of the hole, symmetry (roundness), etc.
The debris around the hole doesn't appear so much exploded up as pushed up - kinda like an ant hill...
Worm sign?
Dr_toad
Jul 18, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (5) Jul 18, 2014
Wow!! Best thing about global warming yet, earth farts.
Dr_toad
Jul 18, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (6) Jul 18, 2014
Would it really be with toad stools like you. (rhetorical)
Dr_toad
Jul 18, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
tadchem
5 / 5 (4) Jul 18, 2014
The hypothesis "water, salt and gas mixture igniting an underground explosion" is intenable. This mixture is not explosive. One would need an oxidizer for a chemical explosion, and a steam explosion requires heat enough to boil water, which is far beyond the wildest claims for 'global warming.'
The ring of ejecta suggests the source of energy is below ground. An impact this diameter would not be so deep. Simple craters generally have depth / diameter ratios of between 1/5 (0.2) and 1/3 (0.33) (Melosh, 1989).
The furrowed slopes and accumulated water at the bottom imply there has been quite enough time for cooling AND erosion - it is not a 'new' fumarole.
I suspect geothermal action on permafrost.
Dr_toad
Jul 18, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Vietvet
5 / 5 (5) Jul 18, 2014
I found a better article and photo of the crater.

http://www.iflsci...-siberia
Dr_toad
Jul 18, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (6) Jul 18, 2014
Are you even approaching puberty? If so, please go and get cut now, lest someone even stupider than you breeds with you.
--toad
You are right to worry about another one as dumb as you being created.
Or were you dropped as a child? You do sound special.
Dr_toad
Jul 18, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (5) Jul 18, 2014
I know you're mentally deficient so I must take pity on you for not realizing that some of us do not live on physorg. How is life, being special?
Ghostt
4.3 / 5 (4) Jul 19, 2014
On the dry sand-like streams falling into the hole":

It does not look like they are streams or anything falling inwards. What it looks like on the moving image are vertical ridges within the hole and that the inside of the hole diameter is larger than the hole itself. Also it is much rougher than the hole.
Whydening Gyre
4.7 / 5 (3) Jul 19, 2014
Even THIS other article on Physorg has better pics...
http://phys.org/n...ria.html
Whydening Gyre
4.8 / 5 (4) Jul 19, 2014
Does it smell like cinnamon?

I dunno. But check their eye color when they get done investigating....
Caliban
5 / 5 (3) Jul 19, 2014
The "streams of dry material" falling in the crater is likely a big clue.


Yeah, cd-

I believe you've hit the nail on the head, as the "streams of dry material " are merely infalls of overburden material.

The hole is clearly not an impact crater. The upper surface does appear to be disturbed and deformed in a way consistent with a massive frost-heave, or possible explosive release of gas, followed by roof collapse and(or just an episode of)sinkhole formation but, the structure in its entirety is a domelike cavern with at least one connected chamber or tunnel in its lower extent. I don't know what the geology of the area is, but the hole is very Karst-like in appearance.

The pingo/escaping gas model would work equally well, were it not for the(apparent) lack of remnant water. Given the permafrost, it's not too much of a stretch to imagine a thawing clathrate deposit, either.

Reckon we'll have to wait for some detailed examination and analysis to get to the truth of i
Vietvet
5 / 5 (5) Jul 20, 2014
@Caliban

NBC as additional footage, the best so far. In the video at the 2:19 mark you can see lots of water, though it might just be the melting permafrost.

http://www.nbcnew...-n159846
Caliban
5 / 5 (3) Jul 20, 2014
@Caliban

NBC as additional footage, the best so far. In the video at the 2:19 mark you can see lots of water, though it might just be the melting permafrost.

http://www.nbcnew...-n159846


Thanks for that, V V-

I'm getting increasingly annoyed by the obvious attempts by everyone that that has filmed this crater so far to AVOID showing the full visual of its shape, depth, morphology, and relation to the near-field, local geomorphology associated with it.

Even so, it is clear that this "crater" has had an at least intermittent outflow of water, that most of the cascade of 'material' is --I revise-- melt/rain water, and that this feature is probably connected underground to the nearby lake, which lies at just exactly the same depth as the lower portion of the "crater".

Note also the nearby --still frozen-- iceponds, which appear to be the breakthrough areas of exactly similar features. Late-stage Karst.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (3) Jul 20, 2014
What I find rather funny is that there is 2 ongoing articles on the same thing, here on
Phys.org.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (4) Jul 21, 2014
The hole is closer to 100 feet across than the early reports of 250 or 300 feet
From the perspectives given in the camera shots and video (now removed from Vietvet's link) I personally think it was a combination of several factors...
is there anything posted yet of the actual cause found?

It looks like there was some upheaval on top due to expansion (be it gas or otherwise) which pushed material outwards into the shape you see above. The "streams of dry material" in the hole and the hole itself reminds me more of a subterranean collapse though.

I would love to see more of what is IN the hole too. what us the soil/foundation like under the hole? What is the soil type? Is the dark soil natural? trace of gas at all? nitrates?

I know ice/water expansion in cold temps can do strange things too...
the material around the hole look pushed from below.
it definitely is NOT a meteor, and I don't think it is HE explosive with uber high temps

but slow burn can get hot too
Vietvet
5 / 5 (4) Jul 21, 2014
Just did a Google News search. The only thing new I could find was that have taken soil and ice samples to a lab. Guess it's a waiting game now.
DeliriousNeuron
5 / 5 (2) Jul 21, 2014
Whydening Gyre
not rated yet Jul 21, 2014
Kinda looks like a boil I had on my lower back, once... (after it ruptured)
Dr_toad
Jul 21, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Jul 21, 2014
TO speculate that this is indeed a resultant artifact of global warming - with nothing more than a "helicopter fly-over" - is disingenuous, at the very least.

Given that there is rock around it and not vegetation it certainly doesn't look like merely a cave-in. But the pushed up rock also doesn't look burnt. So I think a gas bubble is not the worst explanation possible.

Secret Russian base?

The ejecta don't look particularly man-made to me.

I thought those straight sides were very interesting too.

Which would either favor a hot event or a particularly slow event in frozen soil. The material at the crater rim doesn't look very burnt, so I'd go with a slow event.

We'll know whether it's a climate change issue when more of these turn up.