The crater, Hellhole in Siberia is growing at an alarming phase. While locals call it a doorway to the underworld, scientists say they will have insight into earth’s mysterious climate shifts dating back to 200,000 years.
Near the Yana river basin in Siberia, in a vast area of permafrost, there is a dramatic tadpole-shaped hole in the ground: the Batagaika crater.
The crater is the largest of its kind: almost 1km long and 282 ft deep. But these figures will soon change, because it is growing quickly.
Locals in the area avoid it, saying it is a “doorway to the underworld”. But for scientists, the site is of great interest.
Looking at the layers exposed by the slump can give indications of how our world once looked – of past climates. At the same time, the acceleration of the growth gives an immediate insight into the impact of climate change on the increasingly fragile permafrost.
The Batagaika crater opens up a vast area of previously buried permafrost, some of which first formed many thousands of years ago.
During the last 200,000 years, Earth’s climate has alternated repeatedly between relatively warm “interglacial” periods and chilly “glacial” periods in which ice sheets expanded.
The Batagaika sediment layers provide a “continuous record of geological history, which is fairly unusual,” he says. “That should allow us to interpret the climate and environmental history there.”