A huge but mysterious crater spotted in a remote Siberian land ironically known as the “End of the World” has scientists scrambling for answers: Was it a meteor? Was it a weapon? Was it an explosive sign of global warming? Or even a UFO-landing site?
Aerial images posted on YouTube indicate a hole up to 80m wide in Yamal, a peninsula jutting into Arctic waters. The hole was discovered by a helicopter crew working for an oil company in the gas-rich region, The Siberian Times reports.
A scientific expedition organised by the Yamal authorities will leave tomorrow to investigate. The team includes experts from Russia’s Centre for the Study of the Arctic, the Cryosphere Institute of the Academy of Sciences and Russia’s Emergencies Ministry.
The cause of the hole is not yet known. There has been web speculation about the crater indicating ‘the arrival of a UFO craft’.
Rumours and Reality Since the footage appeared online, the internet has been abuzz with rumours of UFOs, secret entrances to the “hollow-Earth” — as well as the more mundane weapon test sites and meteorite impact theories.
“We can definitely say that it is not a meteorite,” a spokesman for Russia’s Emergencies Ministry has told media.
Russian scientist Anna Kurchatova, from the Sub-Arctic Scientific Research Centre, believes the cause is something more logical, such as global warming.
Siberia’s frozen soil — known as permafrost — contains millions of tons of methane gas. As the surface slowly warms, this gas begins to be released — and pools into highly volatile pockets.
A mixture of water, salt and gas may have ignited an underground explosion. Another possibility is that the gas pocket may simply have built up enough pressure to pop like a Champagne cork, she said.
The most deadly meteor impact of modern times known as “The Tunguska air burst” – took place in the region in 1908. The impact flattened vast swathes of forest over a 2,000 square kilometer area.