It still wasn’t aliens.
The Siberian Times is reporting that scientists this week have finally descended into one of the three mysterious craters that formed in the Yamal peninsula earlier this year. Using climbing equipment, the scientists rappelled into the newest crater, down 10.5 meters (34 feet), and onto a frozen lake.
The mission was a success. Data from the base of the crater was collected — probes of the ice, ground, gases, and air — and now has to be analyzed. Researchers are even looking at satellite images going back 30 years to see if the phenomenon is unprecedented. These holes could be forming all the time, but in the vastness of Siberia they might be too inconsequential to notice.
It’s still too soon to say what exactly caused the crater to form, but the scientists have a working theory: gas hydrates.
The absurd has already been ruled out: the craters are not the result of a government conspiracy, aliens, or an errant missile. Gas hydrates, which are a sort of frozen water containing gases like methane, are the leading culprit. Russian scientist Igor Yeltsov, the deputy head of the Trofimuk Institute, thinks that both a warming climate above the Siberian permafrost and seismic activity below the crater caused enough gas to be released from the hydrates, and violently, to jettison the monumental amount of material out of the hole and form the craters.
The idea that an eruption of gases made these holes has now gained new traction in the public because of the supposedly scientific link to the “Bermuda Triangle.” Some researchers have speculated that this western region of of the North Atlantic Ocean may be a hazard to ships and planes because of its tendency to belch methane and other gases, which sinks ships and fouls airplane engines. However, though this theory is also brought up in the Siberian Times, the Bermuda Triangle likely isn’t explained this way, as it’s not really a thing. If you look at the data, there is no evidence that ships or planes are lost there more than any other part of the ocean. Scratch that off the list.
Leader of the new mission, Vladimir Pushkarev, for one tries to downplay the oddity and play up the science. “As of now we don’t see anything dangerous in the sudden appearance of such holes, but we’ve got to study them properly to make absolutely sure we understand the nature of their appearance and don’t need to be afraid about them.”
You can see even more pictures of the expedition over at the Siberian Times.
HT: Siberian Times
IMAGES: Vladimir Pushkarev/Russian Centre of Arctic Exploration