A giant hole has opened in Russia, and though scientists don’t know exactly how it was formed they believe that global warming played a big role in creating the phenomena.
The hole was found on the Yamal Peninsula in Russia, an area referred to as the “end of the world.” The gaping cater measures 262 feet wide and appeared in a natural earthen area.
So far, scientists studying the giant hole in Russia have only been able to determine what didn’t cause it.
“We can definitely say that it is not a meteorite,” a spokesman for the Yamal branch of the country’s Emergencies Ministry told The Siberian Times.
Dr. Chris Fogwill of the University of New South Wales in Australia thinks he may have an explanation. He believes the hole is what’s known as a pingo, or a deep crater once filed by a glacier. Once the ice melts, the hole is left standing.
“Certainly from the images I’ve seen it looks like a periglacial feature, perhaps a collapsed pingo,” Fogwill told The Sydney Morning Herald. “This is obviously a very extreme version of that, and if there’s been any interaction with the gas in the area, that is a question that could only be answered by going there.”
Many glacial lakes and other rock formations have been created by the same process, scientists note.
Others think global warming could be to blame for the giant hole in Russia. Anna Kurchatova, from the Sub-Arctic Scientific Research Centre, told the Siberian Times that the hole may have been caused when a mixture of water, salt, and gas trapped beneath the surface was ignited by rising temperatures locally.
Fogwill agreed that even if the giant hole in Russia was actually a pingo, it was likely global warming that caused it.
“We’re seeing much more activity in permafrost areas than we’ve seen in the historical past,” he said. “A lot of this relates to this high degree of warming around these high arctic areas which are experiencing some of the highest rates of warming on earth,” Dr Fogwill said.
Scientists may soon know exactly what caused the giant hole in Russia to form. A team of Russian scientists was on the way to study it and expected to arrive on Wednesday.