A hole of massive diameter and unknown depth has been spotted in Siberia, puzzling scientists.
Update (July 21): Russian scientists investigated the hole and found it to be up to 300 feet deep and only 195 feet in diameter, with an icy lake at its bottom.
Satellite mapping imagery is being used to determine when the hole appeared, with current estimates suggesting it formed within the last year or two. Rising temperatures in the area is believed to be the most likely cause.
Andrey Plekhanov, senior researcher at the Russian Scientific Centre of Arctic Research, says the crater consists of 80 percent ice.
"We can say for sure that under the influence of internal processes there was an ejection in the permafrost," Dr. Plekhanov said. "I've never seen anything like this, even though I have been to Yamal many times."
Anna Kurchatova from the Sub-Arctic Scientific Research Centre believes global warming may be to blame, suggesting that rapid melting of the under-soil ice released gas and caused an effect similar to the popping of a champagne bottle cork.
Source: The Daily Mail
Original story: The hole, 262 feet in diameter, was found in Russia's Yamal Peninsula - a name that translates to "End of the World" in the native language of the indigenous Nenet people. Helicopter footage shows that the hole has uplifted edges and is surrounded by debris.
Speculation about the hole's origin abounds, and scientists are being deployed to investigate and take soil samples.
"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, adding that there are no further details yet.
The hole is near a natural gas field, which has led to one theory that it was caused by an explosion triggered by a mixture of gas, salt, and water igniting underground. Another theory suggests this was the site of an alien spacecraft launch. We'll let you decide which sounds more plausible.
According to Dr. Chris Fogwill, a polar scientist at the University of New South Wales in Australia, the images of the hole are consistent with features that occur naturally due to seasonal thawing of snow in the tundra - albeit an "extreme version" of what we normally observe.
What theory do you find most likely?
Source: The Huffington Post