Mystery of giant crater at Russia’s ‘end of the earth’

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 July, 2014, 9:09pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 July, 2014, 9:09pm

Researchers are to investigate a giant mysterious hole that has appeared in one of Russia's most isolated northernmost regions, state television reported.

It was unclear what had caused the gaping 100-metre-wide crater filmed from the air in Yamal, which means "the end of the earth" in the local Nenets language.

It is in a region where temperatures plummet to minus 50 degrees Celsius and the sun barely rises in winter.

An expedition to collect soil and water samples from the site was planned for yesterday with two researchers from the Siberian-based Centre for the Study of the Arctic and a scientist from Russia's Academy of Science, state news outlet Vesti reported.

TV Zvezda, broadcast by Russia's Defence Ministry, reported that the person who shot the video footage said the hole appeared to have been caused from below and that the darker soil around its top indicated the effect of high temperatures.

The bottom of the crater appears to be black, or filled with a dark liquid.

Yamal, inhabited by indigenous reindeer herders, is one of Russia's richest regions in natural gas. The hole was found near the Bovanentsky gas field, leading to speculation it could have been caused by an underground explosion.