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Descending into the depths of Siberia's mystery crater: Experts explore 98ft-wide hole to learn more about its origins

 When frozen, the accessible parts of the crater are around 54ft (16.5 metres) deep with a 98ft (30 metre) diameter
Scientists used climbing gear to reach a lake of frozen water that had formed at around 34ft (10.5 metres) deep
Is thought the crater was formed when heating from underground fissures released gas hydrates causing blowout
This is said to be the same phenomenon that may have led to the Bermuda Triangle in the Atlantic Ocean
Experts are now monitoring modern-day and archived satellite images to check for similar holes
A total of three craters have been found in the northern Russian region, but their origins are still unknown

 Remarkable new images have emerged showing the haunting beauty of a mysterious Siberian crater.
The photographs were released as it was revealed scientists are monitoring satellite images to check for other similar holes in northern Russia in a desperate attempt to understand their origin.
And, for the first time, Siberian scientists have used climbing gear to reach a frozen lake 34ft (10.5 metres) deep in the hole to carry out tests.

 These have each been discounted, and the favoured explanation is that heating from underground fissures combined to release gas hydrates causing the dramatic blowout on the surface in July.
Scientists claim the phenomenon may be similar to eruptions underwater in the Atlantic Ocean causing the Bermuda Triangle.
Another popular theory is that the feature is a 'pingo'.
This is a large chunk of ice that is located underground that can create a hole in the ground when it melts.
The Siberian Times revealed today that space images are now to be examined for other craters in the north of Russia, where three others have been found so far.
Because the ground is now frozen, the experts were, for the first time, able to climb inside the large chasm.
Attempts to reach the base of the crater in summer ended in failure.
Leader of the new mission, Vladimir Pushkarev, director of the Russian Centre of Arctic Exploration, said: ‘We managed to go down into the funnel; all was successful.
‘We used climbing equipment, and it is easier to do this in winter, than in summer, with the ground now hard.
‘We took all the probes we planned, and made measurements. Now scientists need time to process all the data and only then can they draw conclusions.’
When frozen, the accessible parts of the crater are around 54ft (16.5 metres) deep, not including an ‘earthen rampart’ formed during the blowout. Estimates suggested the hole was up to 200ft deep (61 metres) deep in warmer weather.

 ‘The depth of the mini-lake is about [34ft] 10.5 metres, but it can be deeper. We are waiting for the exact information from readings taken by the scientists,’ said Mr Pushkarev.
The research into the largest of known holes - all recently formed - in northern Siberia was initiated by the Russian Centre of Arctic Exploration, and included leading Russian experts from a number of institutes.
‘They did radiolocation tests at a depth of 200 metres, took probes of ice, ground, gases, and air,' Mr Pushkarev said.
‘Now they have all gone back to their institutes and laboratories and will work on the material.
‘The next stage is processing all of the gathered information.
‘Then we plan to explore the surrounding area, comparing images from space, and even those taken in the 1980s, to understand if there are - or were - some similar objects.’
Russian scientist Igor Yeltsov, the deputy head of the Trofimuk Institute, earlier suggested the phenomenon could be similar to the Bermuda Traiangle.
‘There is a version that the Bermuda Triangle is a consequence of gas hydrate reactions,’ he said.
‘They start to actively decompose with methane ice turning into gas.
'It happens in an avalanche-like way, like a nuclear reaction, producing huge amounts of gas.
‘That makes the ocean heat up and ships sink in its waters mixed with a huge proportion of gas.’
The impact on the atmosphere of the rising gas makes it ‘extremely turbulent and leads to aircraft crashes’.
The so-called Bermuda Triangle stretches from the British Overseas Territory in the North Atlantic Ocean to the Florida coast, to Puerto Rico.
However, the leader of the latest expedition was cautious.
‘I have heard about this idea of a phenomenon like the Bermuda Triangle, but I repeat, our scientists need to work on their materials first and only then draw some definite conclusions.
'At the moment we do not have enough information,’ said Mr Pushkarev.
Mr Pushkarev is a climber, rescuer and explorer who led the experts to the scene in temperatures of minus 11ºC (51ºF).
‘We have not worked with other funnels yet. We do plan to do this, but first of all we need to understand completely the nature of this funnel.

 ‘We need to study it well to understand with what should we compare the other funnels.
‘We need some model to compare other funnels with, to say - yes, they are similar or no, they are two different things.’
He added: ‘We still do not see anything dangerous which can be connected with the sudden appearance of such holes.

 ‘But certainly we need to study this phenomenon, because it can turn out that we should be afraid of them.’
Gas hydrates are ice-like forms of water containing gas molecules, notably methane.
 They exist in permafrost regions such as northern Siberia, but also under the oceans in some parts of the world.
‘The main element - and this is our working theory to explain the Yamal crater - was a release of gas hydrates.
‘It turned out that there are gas hydrates both in the deep layer, which on the peninsula is several hundred metres down, and on the layer close to the surface,’ said Vladimir Potapov, a Fellow of the Institute of Petroleum Geology and Geophysics in Novosibirsk, before the latest expedition.
‘There might be another factor, or factors, that could have provoked the air clap.
'Each of the factors added up and gas exploded, leading to appearance of the crater.’
He stressed: ‘The crater is located on the intersection of two tectonic faults.
'Yamal peninsula is seismically quiet, yet the area of the crater we looked into has quite an active tectonic life. That means that the temperature there was higher than usual.’
The name Yamal means 'the end of the world', which is also a description applied to the Bermuda Triangle for those lost on boats and planes.
The crater is located 27km (17 miles) from the Bovanenkovo gas field in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region, an area better known for reindeer hunting, in the far north of Siberia.

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