A massive crater, which some describe as a “gate to hell,” has opened up in a Russian town. According to reports, the giant, 100-foot-wide sinkhole formed in a popular ski resort town above mine in Sheregesh.
In a video, users watch in horror as a nearby house gets scarily close to crumbling into the crater. As of now, there have been no reported fatalities due to the crater. Officials have already evacuated residents to keep people safe from the unstable ground.
In a statement, the Tashtagol district administration said that the crater had not damaged any roads or houses. However, they said that local officials have closed a main road into the town. They also suspended public transportation.
According to Evgeny Chuvilin, the leading research scientist at the Center for Petroleum Science and Engineering at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, although the crater may look extremely broad, it was not a surprise to local scientists and researchers. However, in other areas, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to foresee these natural disasters.
“The craters found in the permafrost in the north of Western Siberia are unique geological formations,” Chuvilin said. “They are the result of an explosive release of gas from the upper horizons of the Arctic permafrost.
He continued: “The formation of a crater is preceded by a local accumulation of gas, mainly methane, under pressure in the permafrost. Its accumulation occurs in characteristic cavities that form in the lower horizons of ground ice. Subsequently, in gas-saturated cavities, an increase in pressure occurs as a result of gas concentration.”
As the pressure increases, the ground begins to give way. Then, the earth opens up, creating the phenomenon.
“There is an explosive release of gas with a scatter of rock fragments [and] ice at a distance of several hundred meters around the area of gas breakthrough,” he added.
Experts believe craters will continue to pop up all over the world
However, as Chuvilin says, the phenomenon of craters is still a rarity. Since 2014, there have been reports of 20 similar craters. However, most of these were massive. For instance, the Gydan peninsula had a width of 650 feet.
In addition, scientists believe that as we continue to feel the effects of climate change, we’ll probably see more of these sinkholes.
“It can be said that [climate warming] causes an increase in the temperature of the upper permafrost horizons, and this reduces their mechanical characteristics and thus contributes to the realization of excess gas pressures in the upper permafrost horizons in the form of gas emissions with the formation of craters,” Chuvilin added.
Whether it’s because of mining operations or the planet heating up, experts believe that the ground is becoming more and more vulnerable to the formation of these vast craters.