A Mysterious Hole at the End of the World

The wilderness of Siberia has just gotten a lot more mysterious. Helicopter pilots flying over the Yamal Peninsula have discovered a giant crater-like hole in the Siberian tundra. The hole is reportedly large enough to fit "several" of the very helicopters that discovered it. The hole, estimated to be 150 to 250 feet across, appears to have been made by some sort of blast, and is thought to be around two years old. It's also about 30 miles from one of the Yamal Peninsula's largest natural gas fields. The Yamal Peninsula is Russia's main production area for gas.

The Russian internet is ablaze with speculation about the origin of the giant hole, from a UFO drilling experiment, to a massive meteor impact.

But one of the more plausible explanations for the giant hole comes from Anna Kurchatova, from the Sub-Arctic Scientific Research Centre in Russia. She told The Siberian Times that the crater was likely formed by a water-salt and gas mixture that caused an underground explosion.

That gas that she is referring to is methane.

Methane is one of the strongest of the natural greenhouse gases, about 80 times more potent than CO2, and while it may not get as much attention as its cousin CO2, it certainly can do as much, if not more, damage to our planet. And right now, there are trillions of tons of it embedded in a kind of ice slurry called methane hydrate or methane clathrate crystals in the Arctic, including in the Siberian tundra, and in the seas around the continental shelves all around the world.

But thanks to global warming, the permafrost and Arctic sea ice, which has trapped that methane gas for thousands of years, are melting, releasing methane into the atmosphere. In the case of the giant crater, Kurchatova believes that it was melted and released methane that interacted with other elements to cause a massive explosion.

If so, we can expect to start seeing a lot more of these giant craters to start popping up around the world. That's because the permafrost and Arctic sea ice that currently trap trillions of tons of methane underground are melting at unprecedented rates.

In fact, as Gaius Publius points out over at America Blog, just about every reputable projection on the loss of Arctic sea ice has been wrong in a very, very bad way.

The lack of sea ice cover in the Arctic that we're seeing today wasn't supposed to happen for 20+ more years according to 13 of the most accurate models. As all that sea ice melts, the Arctic ice which once reflected sunlight and prevented global warming, becomes a very blue ocean that absorbs heat and causes even more melting.

And this all means that more and more methane is being released into the atmosphere much faster than expected, speeding up the process of global warming and climate change.

Meanwhile, Researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks International Arctic Research Center have found that Arctic methane is leaking out from the ocean floor nearly twice as fast as was previously thought.

The researchers found that the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is releasing at least 17 million tons of methane into the atmosphere each year.

As Malcolm Light writes over at Arctic News, and as I talked about in the documentary Last Hours, there are such large amounts of methane trapped underneath the Arctic surface, that if only a fraction of that methane was released, it could lead to a jump in the average temperature of the Earth's atmosphere of at least 10 degrees Celsius, and produce a Permian-like mass extinction which would wipe out the human race.

Basically, the methane that is trapped underground in the Arctic is like a giant ticking time bomb, and if it goes off, we're all screwed.

Unless we start seriously fighting back against global warming and climate change, giant craters in the Siberian wilderness will be the least of our worries.


stecoop01's picture
stecoop01 7 years 9 weeks ago

As catastrophic as mass methane release may be, I prefer to think positively. Maybe the crater was the result of alien visitors that stopped by to refuel their methane powered spacecraft- "Hey ET! Get your little gray butts back here and pay for that fuel! You don't pump-and-run planet Earth!!!"

Wouldn't it be nice if there were a civilazation out there that needed all our methane?

Do we know for sure that there isn't?

Willie W's picture
Willie W 7 years 9 weeks ago

The hole does look like it pushed up from under. Like drilling into wood, the drill bit pushes shavings up out of the hole and they pile up around the rim. Like an ant hill. If this is what's realy going on, then we are already screwed. Too little too late. Maybe the world will end before Social Security runs out... Problem solved!

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 7 years 9 weeks ago
Quote stecoop01:Wouldn't it be nice if there were a civilazation out there that needed all our methane?

Do we know for sure that there isn't?

stecoop01 ~ I think it would be nicer if there was a civilization out there that was in the need of 100% Bull $h^t. Wouldn't that be great? We could direct them over to Faux News and let them FILL UP until their tanks runneth over; and, then beam the rest aboard their mother ship for later.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 7 years 9 weeks ago
Quote Willie W:The hole does look like it pushed up from under. Like drilling into wood, the drill bit pushes shavings up out of the hole and they pile up around the rim.

Willie W ~ You are so right. I found some images of this hole on a web search. Here is the link:

Mysterious Hole At The End Of The World Photos

My first reactions was, where is the bottom? Every photo of a meteor I've ever seen the bottom is clearly visible. The same is true of craters from atomic blasts and other explosions. This thing almost looks like a tunnel. It even has smooth walls. WTF! If it WAS an explosion from under the surface, wouldn't it have blown those shavings much further from the epicenter?

Anybody else got any other ideas or theories?

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 7 years 9 weeks ago

I have to agree with Willie W on this one. It looks like a drill did it. The residue scatter pattern, slick walls, plus the depth just doesn't suggest an explosion of any kind I've ever seen. Sorry Thom, to me, a methane explosion theory is just not going to cut it. (Sorry for the pun.)

gvouros's picture
gvouros 7 years 9 weeks ago

From the Washington Post:

The crater may also have been caused by something called a “pingo.” That’s a block of underground ice that can push through the Earth to reach the surface, where it melts and leaves a hole behind. The region’s permafrost can be hundreds of feet thick, a width that may engender such an glacial push, Chris Fogwill, a polar scientist at the University of New South Wales,told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“It’s just a remarkable land form,” he said. “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.”

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 7 years 9 weeks ago

gvouros ~ That makes a lot of sense. However, if true, shouldn't there be a mini lake there. Ice doesn't evaporate suddenly, especially in a cold environment like Siberia. It has to turn into water first. Surely there would still be some traces of water for verification of that theory?

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 7 years 9 weeks ago

Oh, no, not another Mel's hole! I remember also listening to an Art Bell program, many years ago, that claimed that there was this bottomless pit in Siberia, where they lowered a microphone as far as they could into the hole and recorded what was claimed was the voices from Hell. You might still be able to download that sound track. It certainly did sound like millions of people wailing and moaning like they were suffering a great deal. Then I heard of another bottomless pit somewhere else...I think it was Iran.

Maybe you've seen the helicopter flyover but now men are at the hole and have lowered a camera down into the hole (anyone speak Russian?):

I tried to find the hole on Google Earth but the resolution is not very good. I staked out pins all around the Gas Plant at a distance of 30km. It was said that it is at the edge of a forest...but I cannot tell what is forest and what is not...resolution too low. The hole is near a small lake and I looked for anything that looked like that but there are so many lakes, it is just too hard to tell. The Google Earth satellite view was dated in 2013...so if the hole was there for the last 2 years...the hole should be in the image.

Quote a commenter who speaks Russian:sgonch July 17, 2014 at 11:19 AM

Hi, I’m from Russia. They are talking about this hole as about something occured because of material release from within the ground, no explosion, no heat. Just a big soil buble if there could be things like that :). Experts do understand what exactly happened but they are not sure why – the depth of melted ice level is just 70cm which is too low I suppose to create such a release of underground material

Here's the second largest man made pit in the world:
Notice the buildings rimming the top.

More pictures here:

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 7 years 9 weeks ago
Quote DAnneMarc:Anybody else got any other ideas or theories?
Giant termites?

Seriously, though....actually there is water at the bottom. See my last ..universetoday link. The video where they lower a camera into the hole shows this.

Howard Laverne Stewart's picture
Howard Laverne ... 7 years 9 weeks ago

It's never a good time for fascism or a corrupted government, but this is the worst possible time.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 7 years 9 weeks ago

Palindromedary ~ Thanks for that link. I saw the video with the small puddle of water. I also saw the video speculating that the dark rim was caused by severe heat. Still, not enough water to explain the heat, or a source of heat to explain the water that singed the rim or bored the hole. I'm going to wait till they perform atmospheric analysis and radiation measurements. So far, nothing I've heard clicks. Maybe while researching this phenomenon they might stumble upon what has happened to those most unfortunate aircrafts from Malaysia? Something is rotten in Russia! (Or is that Denmark? Oh, whatever!)

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 7 years 9 weeks ago

I don't suppose methane has a natural sink like CO2 does. Some of the CO2 in the atmosphere gets suck up..or sinked..with the Oceans, Seas, Lakes, forests, etc. But some scientists think that the ability to sink CO2 is getting saturated and can't hold anymore. If methane is many times more able to cause runaway greenhouse effect, and if there is not natural sink to soak it up out of the atmosphere...no body had better light a match!

By the way, that is a very good web site at www.americablog.com

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 7 years 9 weeks ago

Oh, I'm so sorry! Silly me. There is, of course, one other perfectly obvious explanation for the hole. What was I thinking?


Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 7 years 9 weeks ago

DAnneMarc: I think something is rotten in Ukraine. Whether it was the pro-Russian rebels, or the Russians in Ukraine, or the Ukraine government, or even the CIA...or Backwater...I mean Blackwater...oh, yeah, they call themselves Xe (the killers that glow..except there is nothing odorless or noble about them) now, I think.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 7 years 9 weeks ago

Sandworms...of course...what else could it be?! ;-}
I actually didn't see Tremors...but I did see Dune.

catman306's picture
catman306 7 years 9 weeks ago

Maybe this is what a methane volcano looks like. Maybe this is an outlier, the first of a growing number of methane volcanos spewing methane into the atmosphere. Maybe all of the Earth's permafrost regions will develop these holes and create a swiss cheese landscape in the far north.

@Palindromedary: There's no natural sink for methane because it eventually breaks down into carbon dioxide and water. So the powerful short term greenhouse gas, methane, becomes the less powerful, but long term, gas carbon dioxide. It took an aeon to capture that carbon into frozen methane. It probably won't take very long for it to melt and force catastrophic global warming.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 7 years 9 weeks ago

Thank you, Catman306! So, it looks like the carbon dioxide (CO2) from the methane (CH4) will cause the CO2 to overload the ability for the carbon sinks to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and cause us all to die agonizing deaths in the near future. How wonderful! And the H2O, not only from the melting ice caps but from the methane will help to raise the oceans that will flood us. Hope that wont be a world wide flood (has that happened before? ;-}) but we'll probably all be dead by then from the heat.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 7 years 9 weeks ago

Another thought, oh no not another one! What would be the effect of the melting of all that ice at the ice caps upon the wobble of the earth? All that weight redistributed might change the earth's wobble and cause wild weather effects..different seasonal characteristics.... earthquakes... pole shifts? Would it thin our atmosphere so that meteors would not burn up in our atmosphere and we would be pelted with unending meteorites..very large ones?

catman306's picture
catman306 7 years 9 weeks ago

I haven't read anything about the breakdown of methane hydrates adding much to the rise in sea level. This breakdown of methane takes place in the atmosphere so the extra water must fall as rain before it adds to sea level. But the heat from increased greenhouse gases will certainly eventually melt the ice caps raising sea level by a couple of hundred feet.

Others have concluded that the redistribution of weight caused by the melting land glaciers and ice caps will cause earthquakes.

If a tree falls in the forest with no around to hear, does it make a sound?

If a planet goes through what we are contemplating here, it will end most life and there won't be anyone around to call it an extinction event. This a purely philosophical question.

So is your point about a possible thinning atmosphere making Earth more vulnerable to meteorites.

stecoop01's picture
stecoop01 7 years 9 weeks ago
Quote DAnneMarc:I think it would be nicer if there was a civilization out there that was in the need of 100% Bull $h^t.

In that case, they can have all of Washington DC, and the entire Republican party. That should keep them fueled for a million years!

stecoop01's picture
stecoop01 7 years 9 weeks ago
Quote Palindromedary:What would be the effect of the melting of all that ice at the ice caps upon the wobble of the earth?

Actually, Palin, that's not so far fetched. Years ago, scientists had theorized that the Earth's wobble had been altered by all the retained water in the Northern hemisphere - so many dams had been built in the Northern hemisphere (compared to the Southern hemisphere), the Earth had become top heavy. I don't know what ever became of that theory, but it kind of made sense.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 7 years 9 weeks ago

stecoop01 and Palindromdary ~ I believe that if the frozen ice caps were indeed to completely melt that we would have a wobble problem. However, it would only be temporary; and, it would be the least of our problems. Water, as a gas, and a liquid, would quickly settle in the new ecospheres state of equilibrium. However, that displaced liquid would also displace much of the land and quickly transform the entire landscape of the planet. Those of us who might survive would barely notice the temporary seasonal changes from a wobble; or, an axis displacement. Those who ultimately survive--if any--would have to quickly adapt to the new environmental paradigm--whatever that might be.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 7 years 9 weeks ago

All very interesting...we're all gonna die!!!!

stecoop01's picture
stecoop01 7 years 9 weeks ago
Quote Palindromedary:All very interesting...we're all gonna die!!!!

I thought that was a given.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 7 years 9 weeks ago

Stecoop: But I thought I was going to live forever! I guess that is the biggest "Mysterious hole at the end of the World."

stecoop01's picture
stecoop01 7 years 9 weeks ago

'Forever' is a dream in an eternity of dreams. The universe will blink and we will be gone, for the duration of our existance is less then the blink of an eye.

We had a good run on this planet, but we screwed it up; the end of our existance is nigh.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 7 years 9 weeks ago

Although, I keep thinking about how all those smoke stacks, starting at the beginning of the industrial age, belched black soot and tars into the sky. Factories, trains, even our homes were all belching black smoke into the atmosphere. It is nothing like that, in most of the US now. There are a few places that may sometimes come close like China or Mexico, probably elsewhere as well, but I don't think it is anything like what it used to be. Yes, there are a lot more people, cars, jets, rockets, and wind-bag politicians now than then but most homes do not pollute the atmosphere with thick black coal burning or wood burning stoves. We either use gas or electricity and some use alternative energy sources. Energy plants are regulated and I don't see any of them belching thick black smoke like they used to.

This is not to say that I don't believe that Global warming and climate change is happening.

Sven Mills's picture
Sven Mills 7 years 9 weeks ago

Most plausible explanation would seem to be a collapsed pingo, but just take a look at the area on Google Earth - such forms are a standard feature of the landscape.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 7 years 8 weeks ago

Sven Mills: I don't know how you can say: "...just take a look at the area on Google Earth - such forms are a standard feature of the landscape."

The satellite image on Google Earth is not very clear...the resolution is not as good as it is, say, in a city. Yes, certainly, there are a lot of what looks like ponds or lakes but not necessarily "holes". The video of the men lowering a camera down the hole shows some water at the bottom. Maybe all those ponds or lakes once were holes like the one in the video, who knows? Probably the people that work at that gas plant might know.

I have tried to find that hole based on the reports that it is located some 30km from the gas plant. No indications was given as to which direction except to say that the hole was located at the edge of a forest. I could not even see a forest anyway. I staked out a perimeter, using Google thumb tacks, at a distance of 30km from the plant in all directions and searched that perimeter. The photos show a small lake near the hole and I tried to find lakes about that size and shape but I finally had to give up because I wasn't getting anywhere.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 7 years 8 weeks ago

My friends, it seems to me that the most mysterious sort of hole is the kind often found in the heads of some humans. It truly is pathological.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 7 years 8 weeks ago

Sven Mills and Palindromedary ~ A collapsed pingo makes a lot of sense to me. If you look closely at the helicopter fly by in the video at this link:


You will notice extensive carved groove patterns in the circumference of the rim of the hole. I believe that these grooves are consistent with glacier movement. Of course, this does not explain the debris field in the perimeter. Whatever happened, I'm sure, has envolved something in addition to a simple collapsed pingo.

Quote Aliceinwonderland: My friends, it seems to me that the most mysterious sort of hole is the kind often found in the heads of some humans. It truly is pathological.

Aliceinwonderland ~ Well said! I agree!

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 8 weeks ago

catman306 -- You know that they (sceintists) say that 2/3 of the sea level rise will be due to thermal expansion, not melting ice. As a matter of fact, melting ice should keep the sea level down because it will prevent thermal expansion.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 8 weeks ago

catman306 -- Of course, the melting ice will only keep it down for a little time until the ice all melts

BillB. 5 years 40 weeks ago

This is enough evidence for me that we have a problem. To be frank I get a bit anxious when I review this kind of thing. Either way it was created, by melting of pingo hole or from methane it is still and an indicator that we must do something about the methane. This hole in the tundra should be a wake up call. We must come up with some ways to collect this methane and use it. How about something like a giant upside down umbrella or several, that are connected to a hose going to a tanker truck or a tanker ship on the ocean.This can be used for growing algae for fuel, or in agriculture or greenhouses or for heating our greenhouses or buildings.

It is good to talk about problems, and also I think at this time it would be good for a shift in our thinking towards coming up with and implementing solutions.

How about a national methane company owned by state and local governments. The like of Exxon, BP (British Petroleum) have shown themselves to be untrustworthy of being responsible corporate citizens if you believe that corporations are really persons. These mega corporations should be prosecuted as persons and all of there upper level executives for there misdeeds. Any excess money from these ventures can go to a permanent sustainable and green infrastructure. This must be a start to decentralization. Local people will know what is happening in the area where they live sooner than a federal agency in DC.

I know a lot of Smart people visit this blog of Thom's. Maybe we cane find some other people who can help out, or come up with some good Ideas ourselves .

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