Dozens of Methane Blowholes Spotted In Siberia: Why Experts Worry


Months after conducting investigations of a big black hole that mysteriously appeared in Siberia, researchers from Russia revealed that they have discovered more of these craters, with one of the recently discovered being found to be a big lake surrounded by over 20 baby craters that are filled with water.

Experts are worried over this particular crater because it is just six miles away from a major gas production plant. Vasily Bogoyavlensky, a scientist from Moscow, already called for the urgent investigation of the phenomenon over safety concerns.

Only three large craters were previously known in northern Russia with the bizarre formation known to be caused by the eruption of methane gas in melting permafrost. The phenomenon is believed to be triggered by climate change. Satellite images, however, have revealed that the craters are more widespread than previously thought.

Bogoyavlensky said that they now know of seven craters, five of which are directly on the Yamal peninsula albeit they only know the exact location of the four craters. The three others were found by reindeer herders but the scientist said there are likely more craters waiting to be discovered on Yamal. Bogoyavlensky said there could be between 20 or 30 more craters that are still undiscovered.

The scientist, deputy director of the Moscow-based Oil and Gas Research Institute, which is part of the Russian Academy of Sciences, is keen on having the crater investigated to prevent potential disasters. Permafrost contains a considerable amount of methane hydrates. An expert estimated that the craters have total explosive power comparable to about 11 tons of TNT.

Images from space also showed that two potentially dangerous objects, areas where gas emission can happen anytime, are located near one of the holes, 30 kilometers from Bovanenkovo. Bogoyavlensky said that in some cases, gas emissions in the Arctic can ignite.

"These objects need to be studied, but it is rather dangerous for the researchers," Bogoyavlensky said. "We know that there can occur a series of gas emissions over an extended period of time, but we do not know exactly when they might happen."

One of the new methane blowholes that experts are interested in is one dubbed B2. Satellite images show that it is a big lake that is surrounded by over 20 small water-filled craters. Analysis of the satellite images show that there were originally no craters and lakes but then the craters started to emerge. Scientists think that the water-filled craters merged and eventually become one large lake.

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