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'The few descriptions of Irkutsk had spoken of it as the Paris of Siberia'
Mrs John Clarence Lee, 1914

Dozens of new craters suspected in northern Russia

By Anna Liesowska
23 February 2015

Satellites show giant hole ringed by 20 'baby craters'.

B1 - famous Yamal hole in 30 kilometres from Bovanenkovo, spotted in 2014 by helicopter pilots. Pictures: Marya Zulinova, Yamal regional government's press service

Respected Moscow scientist Professor Vasily Bogoyavlensky has called for 'urgent' investigation of the new phenomenon amid safety fears.

Until now, only three large craters were known about in northern Russia with several scientific sources speculating last year that heating from above the surface due to unusually warm climatic conditions, and from below, due to geological fault lines, led to a huge release of gas hydrates, so causing the formation of these craters in Arctic regions. 

Two of the newly-discovered large craters - also known as funnels to scientists - have turned into lakes, revealed Professor Bogoyavlensky, deputy director of the Moscow-based Oil and Gas Research Institute, part of the Russian Academy of Sciences. 

Examination using satellite images has helped Russian experts understand that the craters are more widespread than was first realised, with one large hole surrounded by as many as 20 mini-craters, The Siberian Times can reveal.

Map of Arctic craters

Four arctic craters: B1 - famous Yamal hole in 30 kilometres from Bovanenkovo, B2 - recently detected crater in 10 kilometres to the south from Bovanenkovo, B3 - crater located in 90 kilometres from Antipayuta village, B4 - crater located near Nosok village, on the north of Krasnoyarsk region, near Taimyr Peninsula. Picture: Vasily Bogoyavlensky

'We know now of seven craters in the Arctic area,' he said. 'Five are directly on the Yamal peninsula, one in Yamal Autonomous district, and one is on the north of the Krasnoyarsk region, near the Taimyr peninsula. 

'We have exact locations for only four of them. The other three were spotted by reindeer herders. But I am sure that there are more craters on Yamal, we just need to search for them. 

'I would compare this with mushrooms: when you find one mushroom, be sure there are few more around. I suppose there could be 20 to 30 craters more.'

He is anxious to investigate the craters further because of serious concerns for safety in these regions.

The study of satellite images showed that near the famous hole, located in 30 kilometres from Bovanenkovo are two potentially dangerous objects, where the gas emission can occur at any moment.

Yamal hole

Satellite image of the site before the forming of the Yamal hole (B1). K1 and the red outline show the hillock (pingo) formed before the gas emission. Yellow outlines show the potentially dangerous objects. Picture: Vasily Bogoyavlensky

He warned: 'These objects need to be studied, but it is rather dangerous for the researchers. We know that there can occur a series of gas emissions over an extended period of time, but we do not know exactly when they might happen.

'For example, you all remember the magnificent shots of the Yamal crater in winter, made during the latest expedition in Novomber 2014. But do you know that Vladimir Pushkarev, director of the Russian Centre of Arctic Exploration, was the first man in the world who went down the crater of gas emission? 

'More than this, it was very risky, because no one could guarantee there would not be new emissions.'

Professor Bogoyavlensky told The Siberian Times: 'One of the most interesting objects here is the crater that we mark as B2, located 10 kilometres to the south of Bovanenkovo. On the satellite image you can see that it is one big lake surrounded by more than 20 small craters filled with water. 

'Studying the satellite images we found out that initially there were no craters nor a lake. Some craters appeared, then more. Then, I suppose that the craters filled with water and turned to several lakes, then merged into one large lake, 50 by 100 metres in diameter. 

'This big lake is surrounded by the network of  more than 20 'baby' craters now filled with water and I suppose that new ones could appear last summer or even now. We now counting them and making a catalogue. Some of them are very small, no more than 2 metres in diameter.'

Lake and small craters around

Satellite images showing pingo before the gas emission on the object B2 (top). Lake formed here at the place of the number of craters and the network of more than 20 'baby' craters around (bottom). Picture: Vasily Bogoyavlensky

'We have not been at the spot yet,' he said. 'Probably some local reindeer herders were there, but so far no scientists.'

He explained: 'After studying this object I am pretty sure that there was a series of gas emissions over an extended period of time. Sadly, we do not know, when exactly these emissions occur, i.e. mostly in summer, or in winter too. We see only the results of this emissions.'

The object B2 is now attracting special attention from the researchers as they seek to understand and explain the phenomenon. This is only 10km from Bovanenkovo, a major gas field, developed by Gazprom, in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug. Yet older satellite images do not show the existence of a lake, nor any craters, in this location. 

Not only the new craters constantly forming on Yamal show that the process of gas emission is ongoing actively.

Professor Bogoyavlensky shows the picture of one of the Yamal lakes, taken by him from the helicopter and points on the whitish haze on its surface. 

Lake with degassation

Yamal lake with traces of gas emissions. Picture: Vasily Bogoyavlensky

He commented: 'This haze that you see on the surface shows that gas seeps that go from the bottom of the lake to the surface. We call this process 'degassing'. 

'We do not know, if there was a crater previously and then turned to lake, or the lake formed during some other process. More important is that the gases from within are actively seeping through this lake.

'Degassing was revealed on the territory of Yamal Autonomous District about 45 years ago, but now we think that it can give us some clues about the formation of the craters and gas emissions. Anyway, we must research this phenomenon urgently, to prevent possible disasters.'

Professor Bogoyavlensky stressed: 'For now, we can speak only about the results of our work in the laboratory, using the images from space. 

'No one knows what is happening in these craters at the moment. We plan a new expedition. Also we want to put not less than four seismic stations in Yamal district, so they can fix small earthquakes, that occur when the crater appears. 

'In two cases locals told us that they felt earth tremors. The nearest seismic station was yet too far to register these tremors.

View of the crater in Antipayuta


Big hole on Taymyr near Nosok

Crater B3 located in 90 kilometres from Antipayuta village, Yamal district (top). Crater B4 located near Nosok village, on the north of Krasnoyarsk region, near Taimyr Peninsula. Pictures: Local residents

'I think that at the moment we know enough about the crater B1. There were several expeditions, we took probes and made measurements. I believe that we need to visit the other craters, namely B2, B3 and B4, and then visit the rest three craters, when we will know their exact location. It will give us more information and will bring us closer to understanding the phenomenon.'

He urged: 'It is important not to scare people, but to understand that it is a very serious problem and we must research this.'

In an article for Drilling and Oil magazine, Professor Bogoyavlensky said the parapet of these craters suggests an underground explosion.

'The absence of charred rock and traces of  significant erosion due to possible water leaks speaks in favour of mighty eruption (pneumatic exhaust) of gas from a shallow underground reservoir, which left no traces on soil which contained a high percentage of ice,' he wrote. 

'In other words, it was a gas-explosive mechanism that worked there. A concentration of 5-to-16% of methane is explosive. The most explosive concentration is 9.5%.'

Yamal crater in summer


Yamal crater in summer

'The parapet of these craters suggests an underground explosion.' Pictures of Yamal crater taken by Vasily Bogoyavlensky

Gas probably concentrated underground in a cavity 'which formed due to the gradual melting of buried ice'. Then 'gas was replacing ice and water'.

'Years of experience has shown that gas emissions can cause serious damage to drilling rigs, oil and gas fields and offshore pipelines,' he said. 'Yamal craters are inherently similar to pockmarks. 

'We cannot rule out new gas emissions in the Arctic and in some cases they can ignite.'

This was possible in the case of the crater found at Antipayuta, on the Yamal peninsula. 

'The Antipayuta residents told how they saw some flash. Probably the gas ignited when appeared the crater B4, near Taimyr peninsula. This shows us, that such explosion could be rather dangerous and destructive. 

'We need to answer now the basic questions: what areas and under what conditions are the most dangerous? These questions are important for safe operation of the northern cities and infrastructure of oil and gas complexes.'

Exclusive new pictures INSIDE mystery Siberian crater


Exclusive new pictures INSIDE mystery Siberian crater


Exclusive new pictures INSIDE mystery Siberian crater


Exclusive new pictures INSIDE mystery Siberian crater


Exclusive new pictures INSIDE mystery Siberian crater


Exclusive new pictures INSIDE mystery Siberian crater

The latest expedition to Yamal crater was initiated by the Russian Centre of Arctic Exploration in early November 2014. The researchers were first in the world who went down the crater of gas emission. Pictures: Vladimir Pushkarev/Russian Centre of Arctic Exploration 

Pingos are mounds with an ice core found in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions.

They can reach up to 70 metres (230 ft) in height and up to 600 m (2,000 ft) in diameter. They usually appear when groundwaters penetrate between permafrost and the top layer, which melts in summer season. They usually form in drained lakes or river channels. 

However, gas is not a factor in their creation. 

See previous stories on the craters:

Large crater appears at the 'end of the world'

First pictures from inside the 'crater at the end of the world'

Now two NEW large holes appear in Siberia

Foreign scientists welcome to join research into Siberia's mysterious giant holes 

Siberian exploding holes 'are the key to Bermuda Triangle'

Exclusive new pictures INSIDE Siberian crater

Now Siberian craters could provide energy of future

How global warming could turn Siberia into a giant crater 'time bomb'

Comments (73)

Is it a country that mines for coal or any rich substance? Maybe thats what needs to be discovered. Has the soil been tested. Could be radio active. Im interested in this sort of phenomena
Joe bloggs, Landon tarn
25/02/2015 04:06
2
3
No parecen ser socabones o hundimientos, mas bien pareciera que algo salió de ahi y con poca profundidad, esto es por los bordes que tienen al rededor, y efectivamente lo causó el calentamiento global el cual permitió la temperatura y el tiempo ideal para despertar lo que ahí si incubo durante años, saludos. leonel.mb@hotmail.com
Leonel Miranda, Jalisco, Mexico
25/02/2015 00:42
0
2
It could also be the result of a very slow fouling process which produces methane. Then when the storage capacity of the soil is reached it gases out. One should not forget that the permafrost soil is made of rotting plants which form thick layers over hundreds to thousands of years. A methane explosion that size (crater) shows different signs.
TVV, EU
24/02/2015 21:18
9
5
They look like the Mexican "zelotes" from Yucatan.
Enrique, Spain
24/02/2015 18:08
4
6
"...global warming alarmists..." Oh perleeese. This is an adult news blog. If you can't be sensible go and play with your pals on Wattsupwiththat. Here's a list of 197 'alarmists' for you. 1.Academia Chilena de Ciencias, Chile 2.Academia das Ciencias de Lisboa, Portugal 3.Academia de Ciencias de la República Dominicana 4.Academia de Ciencias Físicas, Matemáticas y Naturales de Venezuela 5.Academia de Ciencias Medicas, Fisicas y Naturales de Guatemala 6.Academia Mexicana de Ciencias,Mexico 7.Academia Nacional de Ciencias de Bolivia 8.Academia Nacional de Ciencias del Peru 9.Académie des Sciences et Techniques du Sénégal 10.Académie des Sciences, France 11.Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada 12.Academy of Athens 13.Academy of Science of Mozambique 14.Academy of Science of South Africa 15.Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS) 16.Academy of Sciences Malaysia 17.Academy of Sciences of Moldova 18.Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic 19.Academy of Sciences of the Islamic Republic of Iran 20.Academy of Scientific Research and Technology, Egypt 21.Academy of the Royal Society of New Zealand 22.Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Italy 23.Africa Centre for Climate and Earth Systems Science 24.African Academy of Sciences 25.Albanian Academy of Sciences 26.Amazon Environmental Research Institute 27.American Academy of Pediatrics 28.American Anthropological Association 29.American Association for the Advancement of Science 30.American Association of State Climatologists (AASC) 31.American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians 32.American Astronomical Society 33.American Chemical Society 34.American College of Preventive Medicine 35.American Fisheries Society 36.American Geophysical Union 37.American Institute of Biological Sciences 38.American Institute of Physics 39.American Meteorological Society 40.American Physical Society 41.American Public Health Association 42.American Quaternary Association 43.American Society for Microbiology 44.American Society of Agronomy 45.American Society of Civil Engineers 46.American Society of Plant Biologists 47.American Statistical Association 48.Association of Ecosystem Research Centers 49.Australian Academy of Science 50.Australian Bureau of Meteorology 51.Australian Coral Reef Society 52.Australian Institute of Marine Science 53.Australian Institute of Physics 54.Australian Marine Sciences Association 55.Australian Medical Association 56.Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society 57.Bangladesh Academy of Sciences 58.Botanical Society of America 59.Brazilian Academy of Sciences 60.British Antarctic Survey 61.Bulgarian Academy of Sciences 62.California Academy of Sciences 63.Cameroon Academy of Sciences 64.Canadian Association of Physicists 65.Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences 66.Canadian Geophysical Union 67.Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society 68.Canadian Society of Soil Science 69.Canadian Society of Zoologists 70.Caribbean Academy of Sciences views 71.Center for International Forestry Research 72.Chinese Academy of Sciences 73.Colombian Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences 74.Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) (Australia) 75.Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research 76.Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences 77.Crop Science Society of America 78.Cuban Academy of Sciences 79.Delegation of the Finnish Academies of Science and Letters 80.Ecological Society of America 81.Ecological Society of Australia 82.Environmental Protection Agency 83.European Academy of Sciences and Arts 84.European Federation of Geologists 85.European Geosciences Union 86.European Physical Society 87.European Science Foundation 88.Federation of American Scientists 89.French Academy of Sciences 90.Geological Society of America 91.Geological Society of Australia 92.Geological Society of London 93.Georgian Academy of Sciences 94.German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina 95.Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences 96.Indian National Science Academy 97.Indonesian Academy of Sciences 98.Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management 99.Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology 100.Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand 101.Institution of Mechanical Engineers, UK 102.InterAcademy Council 103.International Alliance of Research Universities 104.International Arctic Science Committee 105.International Association for Great Lakes Research 106.International Council for Science 107.International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences 108.International Research Institute for Climate and Society 109.International Union for Quaternary Research 110.International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics 111.International Union of Pure and Applied Physics 112.Islamic World Academy of Sciences 113.Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities 114.Kenya National Academy of Sciences 115.Korean Academy of Science and Technology 116.Kosovo Academy of Sciences and Arts 117.l'Académie des Sciences et Techniques du Sénégal 118.Latin American Academy of Sciences 119.Latvian Academy of Sciences 120.Lithuanian Academy of Sciences 121.Madagascar National Academy of Arts, Letters, and Sciences 122.Mauritius Academy of Science and Technology 123.Montenegrin Academy of Sciences and Arts 124.National Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences, Argentina 125.National Academy of Sciences of Armenia 126.National Academy of Sciences of the Kyrgyz Republic 127.National Academy of Sciences, Sri Lanka 128.National Academy of Sciences, United States of America 129.National Aeronautics and Space Administration 130.National Association of Geoscience Teachers 131.National Association of State Foresters 132.National Center for Atmospheric Research 133.National Council of Engineers Australia 134.National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research, New Zealand 135.National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 136.National Research Council 137.National Science Foundation 138.Natural England 139.Natural Environment Research Council, UK 140.Natural Science Collections Alliance 141.Network of African Science Academies 142.New York Academy of Sciences 143.Nicaraguan Academy of Sciences 144.Nigerian Academy of Sciences 145.Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters 146.Oklahoma Climatological Survey 147.Organization of Biological Field Stations 148.Pakistan Academy of Sciences 149.Palestine Academy for Science and Technology 150.Pew Center on Global Climate Change 151.Polish Academy of Sciences 152.Romanian Academy 153.Royal Academies for Science and the Arts of Belgium 154.Royal Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences of Spain 155.Royal Astronomical Society, UK 156.Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters 157.Royal Irish Academy 158.Royal Meteorological Society (UK) 159.Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences 160.Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research 161.Royal Scientific Society of Jordan 162.Royal Society of Canada 163.Royal Society of Chemistry, UK 164.Royal Society of the United Kingdom 165.Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 166.Russian Academy of Sciences 167.Science and Technology, Australia 168.Science Council of Japan 169.Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research 170.Scientific Committee on Solar-Terrestrial Physics 171.Scripps Institution of Oceanography 172.Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts 173.Slovak Academy of Sciences 174.Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts 175.Society for Ecological Restoration International 176.Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics 177.Society of American Foresters 178.Society of Biology (UK) 179.Society of Systematic Biologists 180.Soil Science Society of America 181.Sudan Academy of Sciences 182.Sudanese National Academy of Science 183.Tanzania Academy of Sciences 184.The Wildlife Society (international) 185.Turkish Academy of Sciences 186.Uganda National Academy of Sciences 187.Union of German Academies of Sciences and Humanities 188.United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 189.University Corporation for Atmospheric Research 190.Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution 191.World Association of Zoos and Aquariums 192.World Federation of Public Health Associations 193.World Forestry Congress 194.World Health Organization 195.World Meteorological Organization 196.Zambia Academy of Sciences 197.Zimbabwe Academy of Sciences
Leslie Graham, Brisbane.
24/02/2015 17:46
13
15
There could be an important clue in this sentence:
"This is only 10km from Bovanenkovo, a major gas field, developed by Gazprom, in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug."
- Are these craters the result of fracking operations?
Compare the phenomenon to sinkholes in the US, where industrial underground activities have destabilized the ground.
Pigeon, UK
24/02/2015 16:37
18
10
Every hole has similar features along the inside edge that look like frozen globes of ice or some other material. If anything is going to be explored I would start there. These might be smaller bubbles of trapped gas. The larger hole might be one large bubble that absorbed, over time, the smaller bubbles similar to the effect seen in soap bubbles.
B Galahad, Tacoma, Washington, USA
24/02/2015 15:50
12
2
Russian have millions ov cameras on their dashboards,
a drone with camera currently costs around 100$,
and all we have of these strange craters are pictures?

Professor Vasily Bogoyavlensky didn't make any video?!?
jumpjack, rome/italy
24/02/2015 15:49
1
11
What I want to know is where all of the extra material went? If this was a "degassing" that would mean any soil above the gas emission would have to be expunged as well. There's a lot more volume in that hole than you see piled up around the crater. Why is that? I'm not implying any conclusion in particular, but something just doesn't add up.
Bill Bradsky, San Diego, California, USA
24/02/2015 14:41
19
1
Another first rate science article by Anna Liesowska--thorough and responsible reporting, with mind-boggling accompanying photos by Vasily Bogoyavlensky. Well done! Looking forward to further developments...
A Percival, Olympia, Washington, USA
24/02/2015 12:13
14
2
Before the global warming alarmists get in a real lather, consider this is some of the most remote country in the world. It's only because of modern equipment we are able to get in there and observe the phenomenon. No one knows if it's something that happens now and then in the past, or if it's only been happening recently. Even the reindeer herders would visit this country rarely and from the ground you wouldn't see one of these holes until you literally fell into it. The article clearly states that no ones knows much about these holes at all, so let's all pull our heads in on the global warming scare mongering huh?
Gordon Freeman, City 17
24/02/2015 10:10
14
28
The significance of methane release to the atmosphere is not discussed in this interesting article, yet it may be the most important aspect of these phenomena.

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. Further releases of this gas from the tundra could contribute to a positive feedback loop which would intensify global warming.

Climate change threatens both nature and modern society world-wide, and is the most important challenge facing humanity today.
Ron Short, United Kingdom
24/02/2015 07:46
28
11
Clearly the Silver Surfer is preparing the arrival of Galactus
Hans Moleman, Springfield
24/02/2015 03:21
15
3

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