Until now, only three large craters were known about in northern Russia.
Satellite images however show that the funnels are more widespread than was first realised, with one large hole surrounded by as many as 20 mini-craters.
Seven craters are now known in the Arctic area, five directly on the Yamal peninsula, one in Yamal Autonomous district, and one is on the north of the Krasnoyarsk region, near the Taimyr peninsula.
The exact location is known for four of them, the other three were spotted by reindeer herders.
And a scientist to add: ‘I would compare this with mushrooms: when you find one mushroom, be sure there are few more around. I suppose there could be 20 to 30 craters more.‘
Respected Moscow scientist Professor Vasily Bogoyavlensky has called for ‘urgent’ investigation of the new phenomenon amid safety fears.
According to him, one of the most interesting objects here is the crater that we mark as B2, located 10 kilometres to the south of Bovanenkovo. On the satellite image you can see that it is one big lake surrounded by more than 20 small craters filled with water.
[quote_box_center]Studying the satellite images we found out that initially there were no craters nor a lake. Some craters appeared, then more. Then, I suppose that the craters filled with water and turned to several lakes, then merged into one large lake, 50 by 100 metres in diameter.
This big lake is surrounded by the network of more than 20 ‘baby’ craters now filled with water and I suppose that new ones could appear last summer or even now. We now counting them and making a catalogue. Some of them are very small, no more than 2 metres in diameter.[/quote_box_center]
So how could these mysterious craters form?
According to their new results, russian scientists believe the holes were triggered by a series of gas emissions over an extended period of time. Sadly, it is not known with precision when these underground explosions took place, i.e. mostly in summer, or in winter too, but only see the results of these emissions.
As object B2 is only 10km from Bovanenkovo, a major gas field, it is of major importance to determine the source and origin of these holes.
Gas emissions aren’t only demonstrated by the new craters constantly forming on Yamal, but also by whitish haze and bubbles on the surface of Yamal lakeas shown in the picture below:
This haze that you see on the surface shows that gas seeps that go from the bottom of the lake to the surface. This phenomenon is called ‘degassing’. We do not know, if there was a crater previously and then turned to lake, or the lake formed during some other process. More important is that the gases from within are actively seeping through this lake.
Degassing was revealed on the territory of Yamal Autonomous District about 45 years ago, but now we think that it can give us some clues about the formation of the craters and gas emissions.
Anyway, we must research this phenomenon urgently, to prevent a possible collapse or implosion of the Yamal Peninsula.