Almost three years ago on the Yamal Peninsula in Russiain the valley of the Erkut River, a crater with a diameter of 17.5 meters was discovered. The find has attracted the attention of scientists from around the world. Along with scientific explanations of the phenomenon, fantastic hypotheses appeared in the press, for example, related to the activities of aliens. Scientists for a long time studied the site of the formation of the crater, and soon rejected most of the incredible theories, including about an alien ship or an unknown meteorite. The reasons for the formation of the mysterious crater turned out to be quite natural and natural. But this is not easier.
Researcher Evgeny Chuvilin and other employeesThe Skoltech Hydrocarbon Production Center conducted field studies of the crater and concluded that it was formed as a result of a gas explosion released when permafrost thawed.
Why craters form
Methane, possibly mixed with carbon dioxide,is under permafrost. With climate warming, the permafrost begins to thaw from below, allowing the gas to rise higher. In the end, under the pressure of gas, a hill appears on the surface of the earth, which then erupts with the formation of a crater, scientists say.
How did the gas explode? Due to the increase in average daily temperature, the pressure in the non-freezing rock area among the permafrost (talik) has increased significantly, and the “cover” of this permafrost has begun to deform. This led to the fact that heavier soil dropped below, water was in the middle, and gas (methane) rushed up. As a result, the soil settled, which caused the formation of a funnel similar to a meteorite crater.
Talik - a section of rock in permafrost, whichdifferent in that it does not freeze due to the warming effect of rivers or other factors. There are taliks that penetrate the permafrost through and through, as well as those that reach only the middle or less.
According to one version of scientists, talik was already saturatedmethane initially. However, this cannot be clearly stated. Perhaps methane got there later due to chemical processes inside permafrost. Or talik was enriched in methane by raising this gas from deeper layers.
Than dangerous permafrost thawing
To summarize all these reasons, the main problemanyway, one - global warming. It is because of it that similar processes begin in permafrost, due to which it gradually begins to disappear. When the permafrost, which supports the soil, disappears, the hillsides collapse due to which huge gaps suddenly appear. In the past, permafrost was thought to melt only a few centimeters for decades. The rapid thawing of permafrost becomes not only the reason for the huge release of carbon into the Earth’s atmosphere, but also the destruction of the landscape. According to the researchers, the amount of carbon released from a small number of holes in the landscape is large enough to double the amount of harmful emissions, thereby enhancing the negative effect of climate change.
Even if sudden thaws occuronly in 5% of permafrost, emissions will be equal to a much larger area, which can also quickly change the landscape: forests can become lakes within a month, since landslides occur without warning, and invisible holes from methane can swallow snowmobiles entirely.
All ecosystems can turn into one biga mess. This can be prevented only by reducing harmful emissions into the atmosphere, which will help to avoid an increase in temperature. True, while this is not being done as seriously as we would like, and now the issue of permafrost thawing is just a matter of time. A disaster awaits us?
In fact, this process began not 3, and not 5years ago - back in July 2014, reindeer herders discovered an 80-meter crater on the Yamal Peninsula. In the same month, two more craters were discovered, one of which is located in the Taz region, and the other in Taimyr. One of the craters in diameter reached 70 meters! Currently, satellite images show that two of the craters discovered in 2014 turned into lakes.
Such events can not only threatenlandscape and climate, but also the local population. Many villages and villages are located in close proximity to permafrost. And methane thrown out of the ground may well catch fire. In 2014, when the first craters were discovered, residents of nearby settlements observed a bright flash that could accompany the formation of the crater. How the gas could ignite, scientists do not yet know. Maybe you have some guesses? Share in our Telegram chat.