An explosion, thought to be caused by underground gases, has blown open a huge hole in Russia’s Arctic Tundra.
Its just the latest of what has been a succession of explosions in the region since 2014. It also coincides with what has been a record-setting summer in terms of high temperatures.
The latest hole has been called Crater 17, following the previous 16 holes which have formed in the past six years in north west Siberia.
The pit was discovered in July in the Yamal Peninsula above the Arctic Circle.
One website named it a ‘pit to hell’.
“It was making noises. It was like something alive,” Yevgeny Chuvilin, a permafrost expert, said.
What was the cause of the explosion?
This in turn releases trapped methane gas. The gas then creates a bulge on the surface of the earth which finally explodes, causing the giant craters.
According to Chuvilin, the explosions go off “like a bottle of champagne”.
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Researchers plan to do more tests on Crater 17 to try uncover further information on the strange phenomenon.
A huge diesel fuel spill near the Arctic city of Norilsk in May was also linked to melting permafrost.
Regions such as northern Canada and Alaska also have permafrost-covered areas, but no similar craters have been observed there.
Russia has recorded record high temperatures in the Arctic Circle this summer. This has resulted in huge wildfires, crop failures, drought and tree-eating moths. A record temperature of 38 degrees Celsius was recorded in the region in June.