Craters that appear violently and explosively in the Siberian tundra may sound like a sci-fi scenario for many, but they represent pure reality. Known as an imposing blowout of methane gas that threw ice and rock and leaving a gaping circular scar in the empty and eerie landscape, such a crater was found, according to CNN.
The Yamal and Gyda peninsulas from the Russian Arctic have faced such craters before. The new crater reaches about 30 meters in depth.
3D modeling, Artificial Intelligence, and drones sent to work
Evgeny Chuvilin, who is a lead research scientist at the Skolkovo Institute of Science, declared:
The new crater is uniquely well preserved, as surface water hadn’t yet accumulated in the crater when we surveyed it, which allowed us to study a ‘fresh’ crater, untouched by degradation.
The drone captured about 80 pictures, and therefore lead to the 3D creation model of the crater. The drone pilot was Igor Bogoyavlensky from the Russian Academy of Sciences’s Oil and Gas Research Institute, who’s also the study author. The pilot declared:
Three times we got close to losing it, but succeeded in getting the data for the 3D model.
By showing unusual caverns or grottoes in the crater’s lower part, the model mostly confirmed that methane gas builds in one of the ice’s cavities, and therefore causes a mound to appear at ground level. The mound grows and blows out ice, creating the crater.
The source of the methane is still unknown – closer to the surface, from deep layers, or even a combination between the two.
Evgeny Chuvilin also admitted one important aspect:
Climate change, of course, has an impact on the probability of gas blowout craters appearing in the Arctic permafrost.
The new findings were published in the journal Geosciences.