The striking opening in the earth is believed to be up to 80 metres wide but its depth, is unknown. A scientific team has been sent to investigate the hole and is due to arrive at the scene on Wednesday. The cause of its sudden appearance in Yamal – its name means the ‘End of The World’ in the far north of Siberia – is not yet known, although there is speculation it could be caused by a space object – perhaps a meteorite – striking earth or that it is a sinkhole caused by collapsing rock beneath the hole caused by as yet unknown factors.
The giant hole appeared close to a forest some 30 kilometres from Yamal’s biggest gas field Bovanenkovo. Experts are confident that a scientific explanation will be found for it and that it is not – as one web claim suggested – evidence ‘of the arrival of a UFO craft’ to the planet.
A report and footage highlighted by Zvezda TV says the dark colour of the crater indicates ‘some temperature processes’, without explaining more what they may mean. Others say that the darkening around the inner rim indicates its formation was accompanied by severe burning scorching the edges.
There is agreement that soil around the hole was thrown out of the crater, large enough for several Mi-8 helicopters to fly into it – not that they have. The expedition organised by the Yamal authorities includes two experts from the Centre for the Study of the Arctic and one from Cryosphere Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. They plan to take samples of soil, air and water from the scene and will be accompanied by a specialist from the Emergencies Ministry.
A spokesman for the ministry’s Yamal branch ruled out a meteorite but said it was too early to say what cause the gigantic hole in the earth.
‘We can definitely say that it is not a meteorite. No details yet,’ said a spokesman.
Initial reports and images were suspected to be fakes, but the hole is a real phenomenon and it is believed to have been formed around two years ago.
Engineer Konstantin Nikolaev from Yugra is one of those to have filmed it from a helicopter.