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Big bang formed crater causing 'glow in sky': explosion was heard 100 km away

By 0 and 0 and 0
07 June 2016


Since the crater was formed in a 2013 blowout, the crater's size rapidly increased at least 15 times during the next year and a half. Picture: Vladimir Epifanov

First accounts of the gaping fissure in the earth - found by reindeer herders, who were almost swallowed up by the crater - reported that it was around 4 metres in width and 'about 100 metres' deep. 

Scattered over a radius of one kilometre were lumps of displaced soil, sand and ice which had erupted from the earth. 

Now we can reveal significant new details about this remote crater on the Taimyr peninsula in Krasnoyarsk region, some 440 kilometres from dozens of other newly-formed giant holes.

Firstly, respected scientist Dr Vladimir Epifanov, the sole leading expert to so far visit the site, said: 'There is verbal information that residents of nearby villages - at a distance of 70-100 km - heard a sound like an explosion, and one of them watched a clear glow in the sky. It was about one month after the Chelyabinsk meteorite.'

Taimyr crater in March 2013

Taimyr crater in March 2013

Taimyr crater in March 2013

First accounts of the gaping fissure in the earth - found by reindeer herders - reported that it was around 4 metres in width and 'about 100 metres' deep.  Pictures: Sergei Lapsui and Stanislav Yaptune

Locals wrongly suspected it was another exploding space object falling from the sky, it is believed. This is the first known account of the explosive sound, and a bright light in the sky for which - as yet - there seems no explanation. 

Secondly, since the crater was formed in a 2013 blowout, the crater's size rapidly increased at least 15 times during the next year and a half, according to previously unreported scientific data. 

It is expected to be even wider now but no recent scientific surveys have been made to the remote site.  

Our pictures show the so-called Deryabinsky crevice in snow soon after it was formed, when the hole was some four metres in width, and the latest known pictures which illustrate how it is now a lake, some 70 metres in diameter. 

Taimyr crater in Autumn 2014

The height of the northern wall from the water level was measured as six metres, and the water depth 12 metres. The southern wall 10 metres in height, and the depth 18 metres: but it was not possible to measure the deepest point. Picture: Vladimir Epifanov

Thirdly, so rapidly is the landscape around the crater changing that experts predict the walls of the crater lake will soon collapse it will merge with a nearby long-established lake. 

Whatever the original cause of the explosion heard over a vast area, the collapse is seen as being due to melting permafrost, and the walls of the crater caving in. 

The height of the northern wall from the water level was measured as six metres, and the water depth 12 metres. The southern wall 10 metres in height, and the depth 18 metres: but it was not possible to measure the deepest point. As previously stated, the original hole was estimated as 100 metres deep. 

Russia is monitoring by satellite the sites of potential new eruptions across huge swathes of the permafrost north of Siberia, amid suspicions that climate change has stoked a new natural phenomenon. 

When this Taimyr hole first appeared, and many more in Yamal peninsula, known to locals as 'the end of the world', there were varied claims as to the cause: theories ranged from meteorites, to stray missiles, and a manmade prank to outlandish claims that this was the work of aliens. 

Dr Vladimir Epifanov

Novosibirsk scientist Dr Vladimir Epifanov is the sole leading expert to so far visit the site. Picture: Taimyr Museum of Local Lore

There was also the theory that the trigger was an explosive cocktail of methane or other underground gas. One account when it the Taimyr hole first appeared stated: 'It is not like the work of men, but it also doesn't look like natural formation.'

Scientists now appear to agree that other recently-formed Siberian holes were caused by climate warming releasing previously frozen gases, but there is a claim that a different process is at work in the Taimyr crater. 

On the Yamal peninsula, the main theory is that the craters were formed by pingos - dome-shaped mounds over a core of ice - erupting under pressure of methane gas released by thawing of permafrost caused by warming temperatures. 

Pictures highlighted by The Siberian Times in recent years show this dramatic new permafrost phenomenon on land, but it is also clear that underwater mounds in the Kara Sea are leaking methane gas with potentially hazardous consequences for energy exploration in the area. 

One theory is that huge and sudden methane releases from these leaking sea-floor hillocks cause the phenomenon known as the Bermuda Triangle which has led to shipping and air tragedies in the Altantic. 

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

Exclusive new pictures INSIDE mystery Siberian crater

Solved? How scineitsts say mystery craters were formed in northern Siberia

Startling changes revealed in mystery craters in northern Siberia

Yamal hole

How did the famous Yamal crater change from July 2014 to September 2015. Pictures: Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous region governor's press-service, Vasily Bogoyavlensky, Vladimir Pushkarev Picture: Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous region governor's press-service

Land-based Yamal craters were previously pingos, or mounds with an ice core common in  Arctic and sub-Arctic regions, says leading authority Professor Vasily Bogoyavlensky.

Warming over a number of years caused melting and the vacant space inside the ice humps was filled with natural gas, mainly methane, which eventually triggered eruptions, he believes. 

Dr Epifanov has a different explanation for the Taimyr eruption, suggesting it originated at a depth that means it could not be linked  directly to climate change, namely the degradation of gas hydrates some 500 metres below the surface, releasing methane which accumulated at a depth of 100 metres.

He sees the process of degassation as being normal in permafrost regions. 

Dr Epifanov is from the Siberian Research Institute of Geology, Geophysics and Mineral Resources, in Novosibirsk.

The Siberian Times thanks Larisa Stryuchkova and 'Neizvestny Norilsk' ('Unknown Norilsk') Magazine for the reports and images. 

Comments (13)

A child can be seen frozen inside the crater. Look at the frozen icy picture of the crater. If the middle of the picture is 12 o’clock, look at 10 o’clock. Or Center—Left—Bottom. Half a woman’s body can be seen holding a child. It seems like a Mother holding/playing with a baby. Zoom in and you could clearly see arm and legs of the child. May be I am wrong, but I did just read about a 44 Thousand-year-old horse found in another nearby crater... Were there no humans back then? I may be wrong and no child is really frozen there but it does seem like a child. Look at the above frozen picture and decide..
Amir B., Panjshir Afghanistan
13/08/2018 05:30
Could it be possible that some of our moon craters could have been caused this way a VERY long time ago?
Kerrie George, Australia
02/11/2016 18:19
Could be lighting strikes, If Flammable gases are close to the surface Kaboom!!
Michael McLaughlin, Canada
11/09/2016 01:29
ten million years ago, the Eastern Siberia Arctic Shelf was one of the most active volcanic regions on the planet, with no more permafrost to restrain the volcanic activity, things are going to be getting interesting as time goes on.
bernie, 30 degrees north, 90 degrees west
28/08/2016 13:00

I am fascinated by this phenomena. I received one of my degree's from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which has an incredible Arctic Research Facility and I was wondering if anyone has tried to collaborate to see is this is happening there too. Considering the region, it seems logical, if it was happening in one, naturally occurring, then it would be happening in both. ?? Just a thought, I think I'll get a webbot started to look out for this particular topic for me. Seems very interesting.
elaine ossipova, san juan islands, washington state, usa
07/08/2016 14:07
well these all have something in common. Major oil drilling, so at what rate are caverns and veins of crude oil pumped from the earth? and when they run dry are the caverns filled in? these empty caverns and veins might have flowed from larger caverns, yet can't be 100% traced (or we wouldn't have all the drilling issues we do have). when large amounts of the crude oil or "filling" is removed, and there is not a source that is simultaneously filling at the same rate of expulsion, you have a cavern. as ground water moves naturally through the earth as well as natural gasses. they travel the past of least resistance. when you present a enormous space with ZERO resistance, naturally these things will discover it, and then flow to it. Now you have a giant cavern that has large amounts of natural gas building up in it. keep in mind, when the cavern is filled to it's max capacity, the gas doesn't necessarily just stop flowing to it all together! it slows, and naturally finds the next path of least resistance. Natural gas also has it's own rate of expulsion. the result in which it forces its surroundings to move as it expands OR forces the "giant bubble" to travel least path of resistance upward (gravitationally)to where more room is available, or in this instance to "pop". leaving a new hole that will start filling with the naturally flowing water until it reaches it's pivotal point of pressure or water no longer freely flows due to obstruction of path.
Elaine Ekeson, Albuquerque, New Mexico , USA
21/06/2016 14:45
What a strange hexagonal shape it has! It's spectacular, quite similar to many alleged meteor craters throughout our solar system. I suspect Mr henningsen is correct, it looks very much like a electric discharge / plasma phenomena. In a areas known for natural gas plasmas can form and have been reported for thousands of years through folklore. The thunderbolts project./ electric universe has much more information on these topics
David martines, Portugal
18/06/2016 06:35
The comment from Mr. Henningsen is a very interesting possibility, in my day, I have seen rocks getting ground into gravel in the machines that do such things, standing near to a rock crusher macine there were a continuous flow of sparks that could provide an ignition source in the intense and rapid release of extreme pressure flammable gasses.
bernard townsend, saint louis missouri, united states.
15/06/2016 12:34
So is it more possible that the ancient Evenky legends about fireballs emerging from ground are about some real natural events ?
Marco, Italy
14/06/2016 21:19
Hi Michael, thank you for sharing your experience with a very impressive as well as frightening phenomenon. I think I would have been trying to dive for cover...:-). I agree that lightning is a very important potential ignition source to keep in mind as we study the impacts of permafrost melting, natural methane degassing as well as wildfire potential (especially with ultra dry forest conditions).
Pamela Tetarenko, League City, USA
14/06/2016 18:04
I'm not a scientist, but some 40 years ago I witnessed something similar - in much smaller scale.
One autumn day I was birdwatching in a danish moor with known release of small doses of methane, and I was surprised by a thunderstorm.
One of the ligthnings struck the ground a few hundred meters away, causing an loud secondary explosion with fireball and all (making it a Hollywood movie worthy). The crater was only about 1,50 meters across but it was at least 5 m. deep, and with sides like it had been drilled.
This makes me wonder, if ligthnings could be the ignition-source in Taimyr (and maybe Yamal) too. ????? Just a thought. Under all circumstances it's a very fascinating phenomenon (and a little scary to). :-)
Michael Henningsen, Silkeborg, Denmark
10/06/2016 21:27
谢谢 李肖先, 中華民國. (I hope I have said "Thank you" to our fellow commenter properly, my apologies if I have not).

The glow in the sky is intriguing to me as it would indicate an ignition source in addition to released methane. I certainly agree that we need to study all aspects of melting permafrost and investigation of these formations is a very important part of that work. Thank you to everyone involved in this area of research and to the people who are witnessing these events and reporting/recording your observations.
Pamela Tetarenko, League City, USA
08/06/2016 20:30
李肖先, 中華民國
08/06/2016 07:33

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