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Revisiting the Giant Hole in Siberia

Revisiting the Giant Hole in Siberia

Video appeared online in 2014 which showed a massive hole that mysteriously appeared in Siberia. Today we look back at this mystery.

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“End of the World” Hole

While the mysterious hole looks like a work of fiction, such as a Sarlaac pit from Star Wars, it has been reported by multiple news sources, and has been visited by an on-site expedition.

Below is a short video of the hole which has over 750,000 views on YouTube. Another video which had been online topped 3 million views in its first week before being taken down. The location of the mysterious hole is 18 miles from the Bovanenkovo gas field in the Yamal peninsula in northern Siberia.

Size

Siberian Times reports that the hole is believed to be up to 80 meters (260 feet) wide, with an unknown depth. An expedition to the site was led by experts from the Center for the Study of the Arctic and the Cryosphere Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Experts speculate that the hole has been there for about two years.

Theories

Several theories have been offered as to the origin of the hole. These include:

  • Meteorite: Despite visual similarities to impact sites, Russia Today states that the Russian Emergency Ministry has ruled out a meteorite strike.
  • Underground explosion: The hole is located about 30 kilometers (18 miles) from a large gas field. Anna Kurchatova of the Sub-Arctic Scientific Research Center said that it may have been formed by a mixture of gas, water, and salt which ignited an underground explosion. It is suggested that this process could be related to melting permafrost.
  • Sinkhole: The appearance of the hole resembles a giant sinkhole, but it has been pointed out that the soil around the hole is not indicative of a sinkhole. In the case of a sinkhole, the ground collapses inward, and such a buildup is not left behind unless a secondary explosion were to occur.
  • Collapsed Pingo. The Sydney Morning Herald cites polar scientist Dr. Chris Fogwill who believes the hole is a collapsed pingo, which is an underground block of ice. By 2015, this theory had gained traction by several researchers.

National Geographic describes it in the following manner:

A pingo is a plug of ice that forms near the surface over time and has a small mound or hill on top.

When an ice plug melts rapidly — as many have been, thanks to unseasonably warm temperatures in Siberia over the past year — it can cause part of the ground to collapse, forming a crater.

Updated Expedition Video

Below is a news report of the first on-site inspection of the hole by scientists. Although it is in Russian, the report gives the viewer a much closer look of the area.

The video above notes that the expedition team discovered a 73 centimeter (28-inch) layer of permafrost around the hole’s edge.  Scientists will be collecting samples from the site for further analysis.

By early 2015, a total of 7 “mystery craters” had been found in the area and researchers began to more widely accept the collapsed pingo theory over the previous theory of a methane explosion.

Bottom Line

The mysterious hole in Siberia is real and has been visited by an expedition of Russian scientists. Although the cause of the hole has not been confirmed, an underground gas explosion was first suspected, but the idea that this is a collapsed pingo has been theorized in 2015.

Updated August 27, 2015
Originally published July 2014

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