The Batagaika Crater, which the local Yakutian people refer to as the ‘doorway to the underworld’, is easily one of the largest pits collapsing across the Siberian terrain as the ice below the surface melts away to slush and methane.
The Batagaika Crater however is offering a bit of a silver lining on what seems to be a growing problem in Siberia of such pits becoming more frequent.
As it melts away, the crater is revealing hundreds of thousands of years of climate change evidence, buried animal carcasses and petrified forests.
So far, the crater is 1km wide and 85m deep, and growing at a steady rate of 10m to 30m a year, as the ice around its edges slowly gives way. On top of that, the crater’s depth is also increasing.
Preserved in the melting permafrost are also layers of pollen, revealing to researchers that it was once covered in open tundra. Evidence has also been found of dense forests in the region.
Animal remains have also been discovered – some notable finds are ancient mammoth, musk ox, and 4400 year old horses.
With the data being analysed from the crater, researchers are hoping to be able to use the data to try and get a better understanding and predict what may be coming climate-wise over the next decades.
Julian Morton, a professor of permafrost from the University of Sussex it has been around 10,000 years since the last time ‘hellmouth’ craters were formed – after the last ice age.