Last year’s discovery of three giant craters in Siberia made them a gaping issue. Multiple theories were put forward in order to explain their origin but we don’t have a definitive answer. Geologists speculated that they might have been caused by underground fault line eruptions, gas emissions and subsequent explosions or even meteors while others preferred unorthodox explanations such as underground creatures or UFOs. It looks like the issue is going to be ventilated once again as four more craters were recently discovered.
The new cavities have sprung up(down?) in the distant Yamal Peninsula, whose name means “End of the Land” in the native Nenets language. One of these four craters was discovered after local people from the nearby town of Antipayuta were startled by a giant flash of light, leading some to believe that an explosion had indeed created the giant hole.
Russian scientists turned to satellite imagery in order to better understand the phenomenon. They concluded that the craters are more widespread than they first believed. Two of the recent craters have already filled with water, becoming lakes and one of them is surrounded by about two dozens of mini-craters, suggesting that more craters will soon appear.
By studying the satellite images we found out that initially there were no craters nor a lake. Some craters appeared, then more. Then, I suppose that the craters filled with water and turned into several lakes, then merged into one large lake, 50 by 100 meters in diameter. This big lake is surrounded by a network of more than 20 ‘baby’ craters,” Professor Vasiliy Bogoyavlensky told the Siberian Times.
The most likely explanation is that thawing gas hydrates slowly released methane that accumulated under the surface, replacing ice and water. Once the concentration reached a threshold of 5%, an underground explosion occurred, creating the gigantic sinkholes.
Professor Bogayavlensky finds the position of the craters disquieting. The one that turned into a lake is located just 6 miles (10 kilometers) away from a major gas field developed by Gazprom. Should an explosion take place, it could prove devastating. Satellite images show that two potentially dangerous objects are located near the lake and a gas emission could take place without a moment’s notice.
At the moment, Russian scientists know the exact location of only four craters.
The other three were spotted by reindeer hunters. But I am sure 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 a few more around. I suppose there could be 20 to 30 more craters,” Bogayavlensky added.
Currently, there’s no way to predict when and where new craters might form. The most recent ones have appeared closer to mining operations and inhabited areas and although they weren’t caused by arriving or departing UFOs, they’re giving us a serious reason for concern.