Four new mysterious giant craters have appeared in the Siberian permafrost in northern Russia, sparking fears that global warming may be causing gas to erupt from underground.
Scientists spotted the new holes, along with dozens of other smaller ones, in the same area as three other enormous craters that were spotted on the Yamal Peninsula last year.
The craters are thought to be caused by eruptions of methane gas from the permafrost as rising rising temperatures causes the frozen soil to melt.
Vasily Bogoyavlensky, deputy director of the Moscow-based Oil and Gas
Research Institute, part of the Russian Academy of Sciences, has called
for ‘urgent’ investigation of the new phenomenon amid safety fears.
now, the existence of only three Siberian craters had been established
when great caverns in the frozen landscape were spotted by passing
are directly on the Yamal peninsula, one in Yamal Autonomous district,
and one is on the north of the Krasnoyarsk region, near the Taimyr
of the newly-discovered large craters – also known as funnels to
scientists – have turned into lakes, revealed Professor Bogoyavlensky.
accumulation of ice beneath the surface, known as a pingo, while a more
recent image shows a lake has formed in a crater scientists have called
B2, surrounded by smaller holes
first hole was spotted in 2013 by helicopter pilots 20 miles from a gas
extraction plant at Bovanenkovo, on the Yamal Peninsula.
examination of the area using satellite images, comparing landscapes in
the past with the present day, has alerted Russian experts to the
prospect that the phenomenon is more widespread than first thought.