Environment

Giant Mystery Hole Appears in Siberia, But No One’s Sure What Caused It

Scientists think global warming might have something to do with it.

A 250-foot crater of unknown depth mysteriously appeared in Siberia’s Yamal peninsula,the Siberian Times reports, and scientists today are headed over to investigate.

Researchers have already ruled out a meteorite as a potential cause. Same goes, presumably, for UFOs, as some suggested. A more likely explanation, according to Anna Kurchatova, with the Sub-Arctic Scientific Research Centre, could have to do with the thawing of Siberia’s permafrost, a consequence of global warming. The rapid release of gas previously trapped in the ice, she said, could have combined with sand beneath the surface to form an underground explosion.

University of New South Wales polar scientist Chris Fogwill agrees that global warming is the likely cause. In his opinion, provided by the Sydney Morning Herald, he explained that what we’re looking at might be a collapsed “pingo,” a natural geological phenomenon associated with the melting permafrost. “We’re seeing much more activity in permafrost areas than we’ve seen in the historical past,” he said. “A lot of this relates to this high degree of warming around these high arctic areas which are experiencing some of the highest rates of warming on earth.”

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The Siberian Times first posted footage of the hole, set to funky music. But here’s a better version of the video from the Sydney Morning Herald, which features Fogwill’s comments instead:

 

Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email [email protected].