In July 2014, a helicopter passing over Siberia’s desolate Yamal Peninsula noticed a strikingly large anomaly down below. In a region ominously dubbed, “The End Of Earth,” what else would you expect to find than a giant freakin’ hole?
Just how big a hole? 260 ft. wide, and up to 230 ft. deep. The depth is still a point for debate since a lake of thawed permafrost has formed at the bottom of the massive pit.
When investigators arrived on scene, they found no traces of human activity, ruling out any possible foul play by one or more individuals.
But other theories have begun to make their rounds, most notably the idea that a meteorite strike is responsible for the massive missing mound.
While this part of Siberia is no stranger to meteorite strikes, this most recent crater differentiates itself from known meteorites of years past. A closer inspection of the hole’s perimeter reveals a hill of debris originating from an ejection as opposed to the entry impact of a meteorite.
YouTube user Nicolaus Copernicus speculates, “Something or someone was in that hole & decided it was time to leave.”
And who could blame him for jumping to such a conclusion? The surrounding dirt pile paired with the sheer emptiness of the hole seems to support his theory. And according to research scientist Andrey Plekhanov, tin foil hats aside, these claims might not be too far off.
“For now we can say for sure that under the influence of internal processes there was an ejection in the permafrost.”
Plekhanov continued, “I also want to recall a theory that our scientists worked on in the 1980s – it has been left and then forgotten for a number of years. The theory was that the number of Yamal lakes formed because of exactly such natural process happening in the permafrost. Such kind of processes were taking place about 8,000 years ago. Perhaps they are repeating nowadays. If this theory is confirmed, we can say that we have witnessed a unique natural process that formed the unusual landscape of Yamal peninsula.”
It is still unknown whether if the mysterious formation is a byproduct of global warming or a separate phenomena entirely.
Researchers are analyzing satellite imagery to determine when the crater first appeared. The permafrost surrounding it suggests it’s up to a couple years old, which is pretty amazing considering it went undiscovered until now.
So what’s to become of this hole? Research scientist Marina Leibman had this to say about the crater’s future:
“Its walls are constantly thawing, water is gathering up and I suspect that it gets frozen at the bottom of the crater. If the water stream intensifies – for example because of the hot second part of July – then it won’t have enough time to freeze. This will likely lead to a formation of a new lake.”
Before our Yamal real estate goes fully lakefront, perhaps an adventurer could submit themself to the depths of the icy crater with GoPro in tow. Perhaps then we will solve once and for all the mystery of the subterranean world that lies beneath.