A crater measuring 260 feet across has been recognized in Siberia, and no one is sure what caused it or if other holes might form. No one has yet been able to measure the depth of the new crater. The name of the Yamal Peninsula, where the crater formed, translates as "end of the world."
Theories as to what caused the crater range from an explosion of methane, to a large meteor strike. The region where the crater formed is rich with gas, making methane a prime suspect. A few people are even claiming the massive hole in the ground is the result of a flying saucer crashing into the ground.
Scientists from around the world are rushing out to the desolate area in an attempt to understand the cause of the highly-unusual event.
The crater formed about two years ago, but until now, most people considered reports of the hole to be fancifal or at least exageratted.
The crater formed less than 19 miles from the region's largest gas field, known as Bovanenkovo.
The walls inside the crater are significantly darker than the surrounding soil. This suggests to some researchers that a great amount of heat could have oxidized the walls, lending further support to the idea that methane could be responsible for the formation of the massive hole.
"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," the Siberian Times reported.
Anna Kurchatova from Sub-Arctic Scientific Research Centre believes a combination of gas, water and salt may have exploded underground, forming the crater. She told the press this event could have been triggered by global warming. This could have occurred if melting permafrost beneath the ground allowed methane to escape. This gas could have then ignited, creating the unusual feature.
Siberia has been the target of two of the largest meteor strikes in recent history. On 27 July 1908, a large asteroid (or perhaps a comet) exploded high above woodlands near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in Siberia. This leveled trees for several miles beneath the blast. No one was injured in the Tunguska explosion. On 15 February 2013, another large asteroid burst apart in the skies above the city of Chelyabinsk in Siberia, injuring over 1,000 people. Despite the injuries, no one was killed in the blast.
Before the sinkhole formed and was identified, the area was mainly known for reindeer and a wealth of woolly mammoth fossils in the region.