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Science Meets Supernatural as Crater in Siberia Widens

Science Meets Supernatural as Crater in Siberia Widens
PHOTOGRAPH: University of Sussex | Locals call this fast-growing crater a “doorway to the underworld.”.

A huge crater or crack in the Siberian wilderness is getting wider and deeper. Locals call it “Doorway to the Underworld.” On the other hand, a study has been done to determine the extent of danger, demystifying the supernatural notions.

The new study was published this February in the journal Quaternary Research. It indicated that the Batagaika crater is around one kilometer in length, 282 feet deep, and enlarging between 33 and 98 feet. The warmer it gets, the larger the crack grows.

A group of researchers discovered buried fossilized forests, and animals such as a mammoth and a horse. Hundreds of thousands of years’ worth of records of climate change were found in the crater.

Technically called “thermokarst,” the crack forms after permafrost – top soil layer exposed to subzero temperatures for at least two years, sometimes more – is thawed by climate change. It may refreeze and re-thaw, making uneven depressions in the landscape.

The one in Siberia was originally a ravine that was formed when a forest was cut down. In time, warming caused the ravine to grow into a crater.

The existence of thermokarsts signals environmental decline. The incredible massiveness of the doom crack is the most alarming harbinger of all.

Dangers Posed by ‘The Doorway’

The thermokarst in Siberia has been continually growing since the 1960s. It will increase in size by encompassing a nearby valley. By no means the only one of its kind, it is by far the largest. Its presence – along with similar ones, such as one in Canada – entails the climate is getting warmer.

One other concern is that the growth of such a crater is also spewing methane and carbon dioxide into the air. In that sense, the danger it presents is more real rather than superstitious.

That superstition is based on many Yakutian people’s belief in the upper, middle and under world. They perceive the Batagaika Megaslump, as they call the crack, as a doorway to such a world.

A Depository of Ancient Soil

Science has truly met superstition in Siberia. Professor Julian Murton of the University of Sussex, whose team inspected the site, stated that its layers of soil are around 200,000 years old. The value of the find is significant in the reconstruction of earth’s history.

He plans to compare the soil with other found sediment samples in Greenland, China, and Antarctica. He deduced that the permafrost helped preserve the samples, which will be examined in detail at the Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems in Soil Science in Russia.

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