The Siberian Times reported that Russian scientists have located two fresh methane craters formed on Yamal peninsula this year, with the latest exploding on 28 June with the eruption picked up by new seismic sensors specifically designed to monitor such events. Reindeer herder Mikhail Okotetto said that on 28 June there was short but mighty fire at about 35 to 40 kilometres north-west of Seyakha. A hill exploded and disappeared. The account of an exploding hill is consistent with the scientific theory that sees the craters as mainly, but not only, formed by exploding pingo mounds. Helicopter reconnaissance of the site showed a crater appearing in a river, so it assumed the hill was beside or abutting the river. The crater is some 30-35 kilometres is around 100 km of Russia’s new state-of-the-art Arctic port of Sabetta. It is in an area of crater-shaped lakes.
The second new funnel is some eight metres in diameter and 20 metres deep and first images show a spectacular classic crater-shape.
Reindeer herders are reported to have seen an explosion and flames of fire when snow still lay on the ground this year, but the exact timing of the eruption has not been established.
This new funnel located at 30 km east of the Yerkut scientific station, and some 230 km north of Salekhard has been examined by a group of scientists led by Dr Alexandr Sokolov, who found the funnel on 24 June during an annual expedition for long-term monitoring of terrestrial ecosystems of Yamal.
The craters are believed to form when underground methane gas – trapped by permafrost for thousands of years – is released due to the warming climate in this Arctic region and erupts inside pingo mounds.
Scientists say several thousand pingos, many filled with gas, could explode forming giant craters in this region.
Pingos are dome-shaped mounds over a core of ice.
At least ten are known to have exploded in Siberia in recent years forming large craters, of which four have been closely examined by scientists.
The largest, 35 metres deep and 40 metres in diameter, is close to the Bovanenkovskoye deposit.