Newly Discovered Siberian Craters Signify End Times (or Maybe Just Global Warming); Mystery of the Siberian crater deepens: Scientists left baffled after two NEW holes appear in Russia’s icy wilderness

clip_image002Guest essay by Don Easterbrook

A crater in northern Siberia, spotted by a passing helicopter, has received worldwide attention and continues to be a top news story. Since then, two more mysterious holes have been discovered elsewhere in the region. Now the new holes, smaller in diameter but similar in shape – are posing a fresh challenge for Russian scientists, according to the The Siberian Times. Theories range from meteorites to an explosion of methane due to global warming.

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Figure 1. Yamal ‘mystery crater.’ (Siberian Times)

Anna Kurchatova of the Sub-Arctic Scientific Research Centre said the crater was formed by a mixture of water, salt, and gas igniting an underground explosion as result of global warming. Kurchatova suggests that global warming may have caused an ‘alarming’ melt in the under-soil ice and released gas, causing an effect like the popping of a champagne bottle cork. ‘The version about melting permafrost due to climate change, causing a release of methane gas, which then forces an eruption is the current favorite, though scientists are reluctant to offer a firm conclusion without more study.’

Scientists with the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of the Earth Cryosphere, which is leading the investigation, suggested that the holes formed when melting permafrost triggered an explosion of methane gas. That theory was bolstered when an icy lake was found at the bottom of the hole. Andrei Plekhanov from Scientific Research Center of the Arctic said the crater appears to be made up of 80 percent ice, which adds to the theory that it was caused by the effects of global warming.

Dr. Plekhanov said: “I’ve never seen anything like this, even though I have been to Yamal many times.”

WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON HERE?

Actually, these craters are not mysterious at all—there are hundreds of them all over the Yamal Peninsula and their origin has been well known for many years.

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Figure 2. Craters of the Yamal Peninsula. The ice cores have completely melted out, leaving lakes. The surrounding ridges are still visible. (Google Earth)

As you can see from the images in Figure 2, there are hundreds of these craters, mostly not as fresh as the recent ones, but showing the same features—a depression surrounded by a ring of raised ground. These are pingos!!

Pingo is an Inuit term for an isolated, dome shaped hill, used to describe large ice-cored mounds found in the permafrost regions of Siberia and various other places in the Arctic. Pingos range in height from a few meters to more than 40 m (130 ft) and from a few meters to 1,000 m (3,300 ft) in diameter. Small pingos typically have rounded tops, but larger ones are commonly broken open at the top where melting of the ice core forms a crater resembling a volcanic cone Where they occur in stratified silt or sand, the beds commonly dip outward from the center, much like those adjacent to an intrusive body. The ice in the core of a pingo is typically massive and of segregation/injection origin. Tension fractures are common at the summit of the mound, but expansion of pingo ice is rare and short-lived. Ice up to 7 m (23 ft) thick has been found in pingos of Sweden. As the ice core melts, a small freshwater lake may occupy the summit crater that forms.

Open system pingos

Open system pingos form where groundwater under artesian pressure beneath thin permafrost forces its way upward and freezes as it approaches the surface where it forms an ice core that heaves the surface upward. Although the initial growth of these types of pingos may occur where ice lenses lie above the water table, their continued growth requires a particular combination of hydrostatic pressure and soil permeability. Thin, discontinuous permafrost and artesian water pressure play important roles in the development of open system pingos. The role of artesian pressure is not to force the overlying sediments upwards but rather to provide a slow, regular supply of groundwater to the growing ice core.

Most open-system pingos are oval or oblong in shape and typically occur as isolated mounds or in small groups developed in either soil or bedrock. Rupturing near their top is common. Concentrations of open-system pingos occur in Siberia, the northern interior of the Yukon, Alaska, Spitsbergen, and Norway.

Closed system pingos

When a lake in a permafrost environment is progressively drained and covered by encroachment of vegetation from the margins, the permafrost table progressively rises to the level of the former lake floor. The rising permafrost table expels pore water ahead of the freezing front, and when the pore water pressure exceeds the overburden strength, upward heaving of the frozen ground occurs as the ice core progressively grows. The size and shape of the resulting pingo typically reflects that of the original body of water.

Closed system pingos vary in height from a few meters to over 60 m (~200 ft) and up to 300 m (~1000 ft) in diameter, ranging from symmetrical conical domes to asymmetric and elongate hills. The top of the pingos are commonly ruptured to form small, star like craters that eventually form shallow-rimmed depressions as the ice core melts.

The mechanism of pingo formation in a closed system starts with a deep, ice-covered lake, surrounded by permafrost. The lake inhibits the development of permafrost beneath it, and the ground remains unfrozen. As the lake is slowly drains or is filled with sediment, at some point the lake ice freezes to the bottom, and the bottom sediments begin to freeze. As the layer of ice and permafrost covers former lake floor, a closed system is set up in the still-unfrozen ground beneath because the permafrost cap prevents the escape of groundwater. As permafrost continues inward growth around the unfrozen core, water pressure increases. Pore water is expelled from the unfrozen sediment by the advancing permafrost, and to relieve the pressure, the surface bulges upward. Eventually, all of the water in the enclosed system groundwater mass becomes frozen and the excess water forms a core of clear ice under the bulge.

Growth rate of pingos:

The birth and growth of a small pingo studied by Mackay (1988) is representative of more than 2,000 closed system pingos of the western Canadian Arctic and Alaska. The pingo appeared on the former floor of a lake that drained suddenly about 1900. Small frost mounds began appearing between 1920 and 1930. The pingo grew steadily until 1976, but the growth rate decreased after that. Mackay also monitored the growth of other small pingos in a lake in the Mackenzie Delta region that drained between 1935 and 1950. The pingos grew rapidly in the initial years, commonly 1.5 m/year (5 ft/yr), then decreased. Mackay suggests that about 15 new pingos per century appear in the Mackenzie Delta region, and only about 50 seem to be actively growing. Similar conclusions have been reached by Russian investigators in Siberia.

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152 thoughts on “Newly Discovered Siberian Craters Signify End Times (or Maybe Just Global Warming); Mystery of the Siberian crater deepens: Scientists left baffled after two NEW holes appear in Russia’s icy wilderness

  1. Dr. Plekhanov said: “I’ve never seen anything like this, even though I have been to Yamal many times.”

    Actually, these craters are not mysterious at all—there are hundreds of them all over the Yamal Peninsula and their origin has been well known for many years.

    Looks like the good Doctor may be blind. He claims to have been to Yamal “many times” and yet he has never seen anything like this. I bet he thinks the crater is “unprecedented”

    Does anyone really wonder why many of us have such low opinions of many “scientists”?

  2. I think its the heat hiding in the deep sea (Kevin Trenberth the Nobel “Laureate” said so, so it must be true) venting through the crust. It has to travel through the 1,000,000 degrees celsius crust (Al Gore said so, so it must be true!) and superheats creating those big holes.

  3. Just to be clear, I appreciate Don Easterbrook’s excellent essay and thank him for the education. My comment was meant to show that when you blame everything on “global warming” you learn nothing. The very rational explanation of Pingos is something that has been occuring since the onset of the last ice age. Yet now it is man made according to alarmists. Yes, their gods are angry and are making pimples on mother gaia.

  4. Once they find out it’s a pingo, they of course all of a sudden realize that global warming is causing an extreme occurrence of pingos. Don’t believe me? Here’s what University of New South Wales polar scientist Dr Chris Fogwil has to say:

    But Dr Fogwill says pingos are a natural occurrence and can be so large they can been seen in satellite imagery in the arctic.
    And global warming may mean more pingos in the future.
    “We’re seeing much more activity in permafrost areas than we’ve seen in the historical past. A lot of this relates to this high degree of warming around these high arctic areas which are experiencing some of the highest rates of warming on earth,” Dr Fogwill said.

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/opinions-divided-over-mysterious-80metre-wide-crater-in-northern-siberia-20140716-ztqvi.html#ixzz398gw83PU

  5. Yeah, blind as a a small winged rodent-like creature I expect! As said before, often clients ring me up claiming there house is falling down because it has cracks in it. When I get there, most cases the cracks are old & been there for yonks, they just never noticed them before!!!! Nullius novus sub sollis!

  6. Ah yes, the global warming mind universal force approach:
    “These are not the pingo’s you believe they are”.

    Haven’t these cagwer’s figured out that people with reasoning skills can’t be manipulated?

  7. If everything warms up isn’t there a risk that the whole world could become a pingo and there would be a great big hole left where mummy earth used to be?

    Could be a hazard to traffic.

    Or the ramblers association…

  8. evidently, those could be graboid holes. AGW must have awakened the critters. Is yamal somewhere near Perfection NV. someone in the media should contact the mann and ask. /sarc

  9. United States Geological Survey Professional Paper 1978, Page 58 “Pingo Scars in Southwestern North Dakota”

  10. Ebeni says:
    August 1, 2014 at 5:00 am

    United States Geological Survey Professional Paper 1978, Page 58 “Pingo Scars in Southwestern North Dakota”

    .
    Oh my good Lord no…it’s spreading?….

  11. I would think that these recent “champagne cork” eruptions, especially of that size, would have shown up on many a seismograph.

  12. Johan says:

    August 1, 2014 at 4:35 am

    Once they find out it’s a pingo, they of course all of a sudden realize that global warming is causing an extreme occurrence of pingos.

    Well, maybe “global warming” has some effect.

    But, does the relatively minor, if at all, contribution to that warming by anthropogenic CO2 emissions make any difference?

  13. Reading so-called scientists claim that well established, historically documented events are the result of global warming raises some deep concerns. It is almost like CO2 obsession leads to a reduction in scientific reasoning and ethical behavior.

  14. Tim says:
    August 1, 2014 at 5:30 am

    Whatever happened to good old ‘Subsidence’?

    The rim around the hole discards subsidence, that is what I read.

  15. Just wait until the hordes of ebola infested zombies start pouring out of them … it’s the end I tell you … snigger and jeer all you want … it won’t matter … they’re coming ang no one can stop it now!

    OK … maybe that was a touch pessimistic … it could be a prosaic natural phenomena after all … but don’t act like you weren’t thinking the worst sort of B-Grade the day after scenarios too.

  16. Tim says:
    August 1, 2014 at 5:30 am
    Whatever happened to good old ‘Subsidence’?

    [Subsidence] is where the land goes DOWN. This would be reverse-subsidence. to coin a term. or Earth-zit.

  17. Similar structures were left scattered over the northeast US after the deglaciation 10,000 years ago. We call them kettle hole ponds.

  18. Alien “honey pots”, We will have to put up signs to tell them to cover after they are finished.

  19. Bill Illis says:
    “Even Nature magazine bandwagoned this yesterday. Talk about about a major scientific journal losing any sense of being scientific.”

    http://www.nature.com/news/mysterious-siberian-crater-attributed-to-methane-1.15649

    Thanks for calling this to our attention, Bill–I hadn’t seen it yet. Siberian pingos have been known for many decades and a large literature on their formation exists. What does Nature use for peer review these days–any competent geologist could have told them how these craters form. Methane in the crater doesn’t mean anything–most all permafrost is full of it.

  20. Pingo mentioned (not in abstract) from 1942. Google Scholar search snippet.

    Ground-ice mounds in tundra
    RP Sharp – Geographical Review, 1942 – JSTOR
    … which freezes in the opening so formed. Porsild’s4 second type of mound or “pingo”
    is larger than the Wolf Creek features but closely analogous in other respects,
    including mode of origin. Peat knobs in swamps and bogs and …

    http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/210383?uid=2&uid=4&sid=21104025227881

  21. “Scientists left baffled after two NEW holes appear in Russia’s icy wilderness”
    Obviously far too much time spent reading instead of looking. In other words they should get out more often!

  22. “Andrei Plekhanov from Scientific Research Center of the Arctic said the crater appears to be made up of 80 percent ice, which adds to the theory that it was caused by the effects of global warming.”

    Aside from being a non sequitur (something made of ice is caused be warming?), this statement reminds me of the old joke about how much dirt is in a hole that measures 3 feet wide, 4 feet long and 5 feet deep? Answer: None…its a hole!

    So what does it mean when a scientist says that the crater is made up of 80% ice? Does he mean the the crater is in a slab of ice that is hundreds of feet thick, or is the crater in the ground and 80% of the walls are covered with ice? I have no idea!

    I very much appreciate Don Easterbrook’s article on pingos, and agree that it is the best explanation so far, but I still have some questions, mainly because this Yamal hole is so deep! Are pingo lakes typically this deep? From the descriptions given, most of them are relatively shallow. If the Yamal hole is an open system pingo created with artesian water pressure, where did the water go? Why is it not filled, at least partially, with water? Is the water table of this area typically hundreds of feet below the surface?

    If the round lakes of Yamal are often hundreds of feet deep, then I will consider the case closed, but if they are not, then something else seems to be going on with this one. Any one have any information on the typical depths of pingo lakes or water tables in Yamal?

  23. If they estimated the age of a large number of these so-called pingo features they would be able to determine whether there is a trend of increasing frequency of their appearance in response to the regional warming they’re bashing on about (obviously, it can’t be attributed to global warming because we haven’t had any for nearly 18 years).

    Throwing their hands up in the air and saying that they’re “baffled” and “they’ve never seen anything like it before” seems a bit.., ahem, puzzling, to say the least. I mean, if these pingo’s are all over the place then that is a bit like a skiing instructor being surprised at seeing a mogul “for the first time”. There’s something fishy going on here…

  24. The most obvious explanation for Plekhanov’s obtuseness is that Russian scientists are on the grab too and that those who control the purse there are the same as elsewhere- none too well informed about the subject. In other words, Plekhanov is putting one over.

  25. Gary says:
    August 1, 2014 at 5:53 am

    “Similar structures were left scattered over the northeast US after the deglaciation 10,000 years ago. We call them kettle hole ponds.”

    Kettles form by a different process. As you note it’s a deglaciation process. A block of ice breaks off the retreating glacier and the sediment washing out from the melting glacier fills in around the block. When the block melts, you have a kettle lake.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kettle_(landform)

    So they are actually from Holocene global warming/climate change. Any day now a climate scientist will find one and call it “unprecedented” and claim “never seen anything like it”. These guys need to get out more.

  26. ossqss says: August 1, 2014 at 5:08 am
    Sandworms!
    GOOD Point!! Will have to review one of my all time favorite cult monster movies: “Tremors”. Perhaps “graboids” made the holes.

  27. I take from this that pingo formation requires a lot of freezing. Add a new talent to the miracle molecule CO2 – global warming increases pressure from freezing ground water and shazam you have a pingo.

  28. There’s a dog like animal indigenous to Australia. I may not get all these facts right but, similar to the typical climate scientist, I don’t really care. And, for a simple comment I’m not going to research it. I’m lazy. Anyway, these dog like animals are bred with genuine dogs so as to impart certain desirable (depending on one’s point of view) characteristics into them. One of the dog breeds thus produced is called the Australian Blue Healer. Thus, we can conclude from these breeding efforts that this indigenous Australian dog like animal is increasing in numbers and range due to the activities of man. The Earth is claimed to be warming due to the activities of man. Thus these two phenomenons must be related.

    What is the name of this indigenous Australian dog like animal that must be increasing in range and numbers in lockstep with global warming? Well, by golly, it’s called a Dingo!

    Now, I know, just like with the pingo phenomenon, that anybody with any familiarity whatsoever with either of them really knows that any relationship with either the dingo or the pingo to global warming is no more likely than a relationship of intelligence to stupidity.

    But, the dingo and the pingo have an excellent relationship to rhyming. They, therefore give us the ability to write a poem. One can write a jingle about a dingo and a pingo. See how easy it is?

  29. Jim Clarke says:

    “If the round lakes of Yamal are often hundreds of feet deep, then I will consider the case closed, but if they are not, then something else seems to be going on with this one. Any one have any information on the typical depths of pingo lakes or water tables in Yamal?”

    The depth of pingo lakes really doesn’t tell you that much. More to the point is the morphology–take a close look at the Yamal pingos on Google Earth or Microsoft’s World Wide Telescope and you will see that virtually all of the lakes have a rim around the periphery. Compare these to the fresh ones (which are classic pingos) that show the classic encircling ridge of uplifted material. The older ones, where the ice core has melted out, still show this rim, but they have less relief because the underlying ice has melted. There are hundreds of these of various ages in Yamal so you can easily see the transformation of the crisp new ones to the older rimmed lakes.

  30. Open system pingos form where groundwater under artesian pressure beneath thin permafrost forces its way upward and freezes as it approaches the surface where it forms an ice core that heaves the surface upward.

    Could the small pond (see 1st picture Upper Rght) have supplied the water. From the extensive photo listing in the 1st posting on this, it looked like a shallow rock crust around 8′ deep. Could it be that water from the pond got under the frost depth and following the slope of the hill drained and refilled, then winter freezing popped the hole?
    Also from the erosion on the inside face of the dirt mound around the hole, I think this happened years ago.

  31. It’s unprecedented.

    Soviet Geography – Volume 11, Issue 6, 1970

    Abstract
    The chemical composition of beds of segregated ice in the pingos of northern Siberia is analyzed with particular reference to the origin of this type of ground ice and the heaving mechanism. A regular change in chemical composition with depth and a low mineral content are found to correspond to the distribution of dissolved substances in the upper horizons of groundwater and point to a segregated rather than an injected origin. A relatively high content of organic matter in the ice, corresponding to the maximum summer concentration of organic matter in groundwater, suggests that the beds of ice grow mainly in the summer. The growth of the ice masses, combining the drawing up of interstitial water from below with the thawing of the upper horizons, produces a steady upward movement of frozen soil, including buried mammoth tusks that are usually found in the vicinity of North Siberian pingos. When the ice content is so high that even a growing bed of ice is no longer adequate to replenish the seasonal frozen ground layer with thawed upward moving bands of frozen soil, then the thermokarstic process begins to operate, producing a thaw depression, often filled with a lake.

    http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00385417.1970.10770498#.U9u09pyrawQ

  32. “Don Easterbrook says:
    August 1, 2014 at 6:30 am

    What does Nature use for peer review these days–any competent geologist could have told them how these craters form. ”

    When dealing geological phenomena, they are obviously using climate experts in the review process…using geological experts is so 20th century.

  33. Andy Revkin covered this a few days ago at Dot Earth at the NY Times.:

    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/07/25/fresh-focus-on-siberian-permafrost-as-second-hole-is-reported/

    The post includes a fifteen minute YouTube interview with Marina Leibman, a top Russian permafrost expert who had just returned from examining the unusual crater spotted on the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia late last week.

    Science reporting at its best — talking to a real expert who has first-hand, contemporary data — someone who went there, investigated that, and tells us what she found.

  34. Let’s not toss the baby out with the bath water. To be fair, as pingos go, these are somewhat odd. The rim of the only example I’ve seen a photograph of is composed very rough clumps of soil that suggests a fairly abrupt origin, but there is no sign of “thrown” earth meaning the action was not as energetic as an explosion. So, a displacement action with a time scale probably more in line with heavy equipment moving earth say, than an explosion, but not as slow as many pingos form where the rim tends to be smoothed from seasonal snow melt, which erodes the soil, filling in pockets and evening the surface to a hill-like, rounded appearance. Probably formation time could be measured in minutes to days rather than months to years like a normal pingo, or seconds like an explosion.

    Also, unlike many of the neighboring features, the ice isn’t there, nor is there an obvious pool or lake. So, where is the water? There doesn’t seem to be any reason to invoke non-measurable global warming. It is far more likely that the detailed formation processes and variations in the formation of pingos simply isn’t as well understood as we would prefer. The “new equals AGW” thinking is silly, faddist thinking.

    So, here’s a thought. Could there be masses of methane ice or more likely clathrates under Yamal that also cause pingo formation?

    http://earth-pages.co.uk/tag/clathrate-bomb/

    The use of “bomb” is just journalistic sensationalism.

  35. In Alaska we called those “Road Blisters”; the permafrost would melt below a dirt road and then erupt; typically about two feet high and twenty feet in diameter.

  36. Their “working hypothesis” is seriously that soil methane is spontaneously combusting? Have they ruled out crab people?

  37. Duster says:
    August 1, 2014 at 9:39 am
    ……….
    Also, unlike many of the neighboring features, the ice isn’t there, nor is there an obvious pool or lake. So, where is the water?

    From DotEarth interview

    I had a Skype chat Wednesday about Siberian permafrost in the context of climate change with Marina Leibman, a top Russian permafrost expert who had just returned from examining the unusual crater spotted on the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia late last week……

    Leibman stressed that there were no indications that such events were more than the normal process of lake formation in the area and predicted that the hole she inspected would end up being a lake in coming years.

    She also stressed that she sees no signs of current or imminent warming producing a great destabilization of permafrost in the Arctic:

    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/07/25/fresh-focus-on-siberian-permafrost-as-second-hole-is-reported/

  38. I take it that more than one of all AWG-belivers never ever studied Geology nor have a clue of facts (instead of their fictions) regarding our world…. bad case

  39. @Jim Clarke 7:21am
    If the Yamal hole is an open system pingo created with artesian water pressure, where did the water go? Why is it not filled, at least partially, with water? Is the water table of this area typically hundreds of feet below the surface?

    The appearance of more open hole Pingos in the area I think adds credence to a hypothesis that the development of the super-giant Bovanenkovo gas field within 30 km has lowered the water table in the area of these pingos. This is a Gazprom project: Where have they been getting fresh water for their operations. How much of it?

    What is unusual here is the rapid lowering of a water table in what used to be an artesian system. Water tables drop because more water is leaves the system than enters. Either some downslope pingos are springing huge amounts of water, or there are some human operations pumping water out of it. Given the development of a colossal gas field near by, I’d look at human operations.

    Either way, it seems a given than many more pingo-holes are going to appear.

  40. Thanks Don for reminding us that we already studied these phenomena and found perfectly reasonable explanations form them. Funny how the new age sciences need to re-invent the last 150 years of empirically derived natural science in order to explain their extraordinary theories.

  41. Revkin had some space to fill, and PINGO was it’s name-o
    P-I-N-G-O! P-I-N-G-O! P-I-N-G-O! and PINGO was it’s name-o

    Warmist Propaganda shill, and PINGO was it’s name-o
    P-I-N-G-O! P-I-N-G-O! P-I-N-G-O! and PINGO was it’s name-o

    Any crap will fit the bill, and PINGO was it’s name-o
    P-I-N-G-O! P-I-N-G-O! P-I-N-G-O! and PINGO was it’s name-o

  42. Reply to mpainter ==>

    Jimbo gave a couple of quotes, but here are Revkins bits” “She describes how the first hole (and presumably the new one) appear to have formed as methane is released from a warming mix of ice, water and soil, building up pressure that explosively pushed out the top of the hole, heaving chunks of earth many yards in some directions. She said there were no signs of combustion, that the hole had to be at least a year old because there was fresh greenery from this summer season with no overlying layer of mud or the like.

    Leibman stressed that there were no indications that such events were more than the normal process of lake formation in the area and predicted that the hole she inspected would end up being a lake in coming years.

    She also stressed that she sees no signs of current or imminent warming producing a great destabilization of permafrost in the Arctic: “You can’t say in 20 years it will be 2 degrees warmer so permafrost will be thawing. It will make it 2 degrees warmer, but not thawing – at least in the far north.

    “In the south, where you have only patches of permafrost, the response may be a little bit more active,” she said. “But what we see now is permafrost with minus 1 degree temperature [Celsius] now — after a climate warming of 1 and a half degrees — permafrost temperature is minus 0.1 degree, but not above zero.”

    Here’s the whole 15 minute interview YouTube video:

    Amongst other things, she poo-poos the entire “melting permafrost” scare.

  43. Hi Don

    Very nice piece.

    Although I appreciate these are not meteorite craters they look like it, so I thought you therefore might appreciate this from a 1966 book ‘The Elements rage’ by Frank W Lane. One of those intriguing books that I look for as it comes from the period BA-Before Alarmism.

    There appears to be some close analogies to those scientists who refuse to believe in observations and evidence ‘on the ground’ and has close parallels to the general subject of climate change as well as pingos and meteors. It also smacks of ‘climategate.’

    This item concerns the scientific establishment refusing to believe that meteorites fell from the skies
    —– —–

    ‘In the afternoon of Sept 13 1768 a meteorite fell at Luce in France. The French academy of science, then the foremost scientific body in the world, sent a commission which received the unanimous testimony of numerous eye witnesses and were given the ‘rock’ itself. But the commission concluded it did not fall. The statement of one of the witnesses was actually altered to make it fit the explanation that the rock was merely a terrestrial body which had been struck by lightning.

    A further example of obscurantism was to come. On July 24 1790 a shower of meteorites fell in Southwest France burying themselves in the earth. Some 300 written statements by witnesses were sent to scientific bodies and journals and pieces of the stones were produced. Still official science would not reverse its ipse dixit that ‘stones do not fall from the sky.’ Charles P Olivier said;

    “In the face of all this evidence we have an example of stupidity and bigotry, exhibited by the foremost body of scientists of the day -men who doubtless considered themselves, and were so considered by others, the most advanced and modern of their time, which for all ages should stand as a warning to any man who feels that he can give a final verdict upon a matter outside his immediate experience.”

    They are words which any scientist would do well to ponder when confronted with evidence running counter to long cherished opinions. ‘

    ——- ——–

    All the best

    Tonyb

  44. I think the writer is confusing kettles and pingos. They are different processes, though both involving ice. The “craters” shown here are likely kettles, not collapsed pingos. The kettles are old, formed when the glaciers receded.

  45. “Ice up to 7 m (23 ft) thick has been found in pingos of Sweden.”
    Actually there are no typical pingos in Sweden (not enough permafrost), these are “palsas”, a sort of mini-pingo that only evolves in peat-bogs and contain several thin ice-layers instead of one massive ice-mass.
    Incidentally I agree that these craters aren’t typical collapsed pingos – they are too deep and too dry. It does seem very likely that nearby gas development and a lowered water-table is involved. Note that in a permafrost area, lowering the water-table below the permafrost will have no obvious effect at the surface, except where there is a break in the permafrost – as there will be at one point when a pingo is collapsing (as all pingos do in the end). But then the effect may well be drastic.

  46. Has Yamal actually even warmed over the past century, in any real data, which excludes “adjusted” by CACA-colluding scientactivists?

  47. Don’t know how reliable or adjusted these reported observations from the Norwegian Met Institute are:

    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=10&ved=0CGsQFjAJ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fmet.no%2Ffilestore%2FEalat_Yamal_climaterep_dvs-1.pdf&ei=muvbU9–GuHxiwKZrIG4BQ&usg=AFQjCNE5LPRvxeQZ0INFwquJHx3OkY6-tw&sig2=oHotd8Iy_zHhnI86iLWCdQ&bvm=bv.72197243,d.cGE

    Long-term climate trends of the Yamalo-Nenets AO, Russia

    In this study trends and variability of temperature, precipitation and snow at four stations of the
    Yamalo-Nenets AO, Russia (Mare-Sale, Tarko-Sale, Salekhard and Nadym) were examined along a
    simulated migration gradient used by nomadic reindeer herders where Mare-Sale represents pastures used in summer and the Nadym region is used during winter. Migration between summer and winter pastures can be as long as 1500 km in one direction. Several climate parameters were chosen for analysis: annual and seasonal temperature, annual and seasonal precipitation sum, maximum snow depth, snow season duration, rain-on-snow events and cold periods.

    The covariance between temperature series from all four stations is high. Average seasonal temperature cycles are also similar (from about -25C in January to +15C in July), with the exception that Mare-Sale is considerably cooler than the other stations in spring and summer and slightly milder in winter. The long-term trend is investigated at Salekard. The spring temperature shows a significant positive trend of almost 0.2C per decade from 1900 to 2008. For the other seasons, the temperature shows no statistically significant long-term trends. All series show warm periods in the 1940s and 1990s, and a cold period in the 1960s. Salekard (the only station with observations at that time) was cold also around 1900. All series indicate a warming from the period 1961-1990 to 1979-2008. In Mare-Sale the warming was largest during autumn (0.9C). At the other stations, it was largest (>1C) in spring.

  48. Steinar Midtskogen says:
    August 1, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    IMO kettles & pingos form in similar ways. In fact, a kettle pond or lake can form within a pingo when its ice core finally melts. IMO the difference in formation between an ordinary kettle & a pingo is only the initial height of the ground above the buried ice, a pingo naturally being taller & more like a hill, while the kettle to be is lower & more of a mound or hump than a hill. That’s at least as understood in Arctic North America. Conical pingo hills persist in permafrost but there are processes that can melt their ice cores, causing collapse into a kettle pone, other than local warming or changes in the permafrost zone.

  49. I rarely visit WUWT now. It used to have some interesting stuff, but this post followed by a message board which unthinkingly dismisses all manner of professional scientists without any justification is cringeworthy.

    Dr. Easterbrook’s post describes Pingos as low hills that develop gradually over time and then often undergo partial collapse in the centre within which lakes can form. This is completely different from the very large holes that have been noticed within the last couple of weeks.

    Yet almost all the posters here demonstrate a child-like trust that the wise Dr. Easterbrook (whose research background, judging from Google Scholar, does not cover geomorphological features such as pingos, so he would appear to be speaking as a layperson here) must be correct, and the experts in such features who are puzzled are dismissed as idiots, or, worse, peddlers of some kind of AGW religion – what evidence do any of you have for this? Putin’s govt has until very recently been pretty hostile towards AGW theory, so it would be surprising that Russian scientists would feel in any way under obligation to bend the knee before AGW.

    Whatever happened to the skepticism, in the original sense of the word, that one used to find on this site?

  50. thingadonta says:
    August 1, 2014 at 4:03 am

    Crop circles?

    ==============================================================
    Nah. Tree rings without the trees.

    Or maybe “The Missing Heat” has been in Yamal all along and got tired of hiding? Afterall, that’s where Mann found it.

    (Did that sentence make sense? Well, it is Catastrophic Climate Science so I guess it doesn’t have to.)

  51. philjourdan says:
    August 1, 2014 at 4:21 am

    …. My comment was meant to show that when you blame everything on “global warming” you learn nothing….

    =======================================================================
    GAGW is a cause looking for an effect to promote a political cause.

  52. Bill H. says:
    “I rarely visit WUWT now. It used to have some interesting stuff, but this post followed by a message board which unthinkingly dismisses all manner of professional scientists without any justification is cringeworthy.”

    “Dr. Easterbrook’s post describes Pingos as low hills that develop gradually over time and then often undergo partial collapse in the centre within which lakes can form. This is completely different from the very large holes that have been noticed within the last couple of weeks.”

    WRONG–IT IS THE SAME PROCESS THAT MADE HUNDREDS OF OTHER SIMILAR FEATURES AT YAMAL. YOU NEED TO LOOK MORE CLOSELY AT THE SATELLITE IMAGES.

    Yet almost all the posters here demonstrate a child-like trust that the wise Dr. Easterbrook (whose research background, judging from Google Scholar, does not cover geomorphological features such as pingos,

    YOUR IGNORANCE IS SHOWING HERE–I SPECIFICALLY DISCUSS PINGOS IN MY THREE GEOMOROPHOLOGY TEXTBOOKS, AVAILABLE AT MOST LIBRARIES..

    so he would appear to be speaking as a layperson here) must be correct,

    YOU SHOULD GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT–IF YOU HAD LOOKED IN MY GEOMORPHOLOGY TEXTBOOKS YOU WOULD HAVE SEEN A PROFESSIONAL DISCUSSION. YOU HAVEN’T DONE YOUR HOMEWORK!

    and the experts in such features who are puzzled are dismissed as idiots, or, worse, peddlers of some kind of AGW religion – what evidence do any of you have for this?

    WHAT UTTER NONSENSE!! READ WHAT I SAID–NOWHERE DID I DISMISS ANYONE AS AN ‘IDIOT’ OR ‘PEDDLERS OF AGW RELIGION.’ THIS IS AN OUTRIGHT LIE.

    Putin’s govt has until very recently been pretty hostile towards AGW theory, so it would be surprising that Russian scientists would feel in any way under obligation to bend the knee before AGW.
    TOTALLY IRELEVANT.

  53. Bill H. says:
    August 1, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    Russian scientists can get funding from foreign sources hoping to promote the criminal conspiracy against humanity of phony Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Alarmism. They’re not all totally dependent on the Russian regime, but you’re right that many Russian scientists still practice real science without being corrupted by CACA.

  54. Bill H:
    Easterbrook brings very good qualifications to the subject, having interest I’m and having studied for over fifty years geology, glaciology, geomorphology, and climatology. You complain in your comment about unnamed commenters who deprecated unnamed scientists, then sneer at Easterbrook as one who does not know the subject. If any is unqualified it seems to be you. Easterbrook gave a well informed post. Your comment was one long pretentious sneer.

  55. TonyK says:
    August 1, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    Ok. I don’t know where to go with that.

    Can’t wait for a walrus’ are doing X because of global warming story.

  56. cba says:
    August 1, 2014 at 4:53 am
    “…evidently, those could be graboid holes….” Heh. So you are one of us derelicts who watched (and enjoyed) the movie “Tremors”.

  57. From the Revkin link

    Leibman, the chief scientist at the Earth Cryosphere Institute of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, has studied permafrost since 1973 and has a remarkable publication record.

    She describes how the first hole (and presumably the new one) appear to have formed as methane is released from a warming mix of ice, water and soil, building up pressure that explosively pushed out the top of the hole, heaving chunks of earth many yards in some directions. She said there were no signs of combustion, that the hole had to be at least a year old because there was fresh greenery from this summer season with no overlying layer of mud or the like.

    I’d add that lowering of the water table may have produced a space or porous zone where gas could accumulate. There would be a permafront cap most of the year. As gas pressure increases and the cap thickness decreases in summer, the point is reached when the gas pressure pops the cap. Much like a champagne cork pops.

  58. There is a Pingo National Landmark in the Northwest Territories, designated a landmark in 1984. Doesn’t seem to have holes, but lots of hills pushed up from underneath. Some of them have had small collapses, and now have a lake at the top, with a ridge of rock/dirt at the rim of the lake.

  59. ” Janice says:
    August 1, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    There is a Pingo National Landmark in the Northwest Territories, designated a landmark in 1984. Doesn’t seem to have holes, but lots of hills pushed up from underneath. Some of them have had small collapses, and now have a lake at the top, with a ridge of rock/dirt at the rim of the lake.”

    My understanding of pingos is a bit limited, but I thought the general idea was that they don’t become holes until all the ice is gone and the ground collapses into the void left by the melting ice.

  60. Don, thank you for this superb scientific education on pingos, showing the destructive power of water in a freeze-thaw cycle. A great compelling read.


    What does Nature use for peer review these days–any competent geologist could have told them how these craters form. Methane in the crater doesn’t mean anything–most all permafrost is full of it.

    The journal Nature is full of it.

  61. A lake has appeared in Tunisia. In the desert. People think it is a beach and swimming in it. Worries that it started out blue now green (algae) might have health hazards. Well if it is blue green it will make them very sick and animals too.

  62. Philip Bradley at 8:43 pm
    As gas pressure increases and the cap thickness decreases in summer, the point is reached when the gas pressure pops the cap. Much like a champagne cork pops.

    Ever seen a champagne bottle with a bad, decaying cork? It leaks slowly with no pop. Even supposing a methane increase, with a summer melting of the cap, there will be ample opportunities for leakage through more than hundred feet circumference of less-than-ideal seal. The heterogeneous makeup of the seal and the unevenness of its melting argue for slow leak rather than a “pop.”

  63. The “crater” in figure 1 has a circular opening thst is much too smooth and regular to have been caused by an explosion. Water expelled by a radially contracting freezing front is a much more compelling explanation from Don Easterbrook. A beautiful display of the power of ice.

    But the Hollywood dumbing down of science demands explosions and loud bangs. And of course the lowest most destructive dumbing down is where global warming intrudes its ugly face.

  64. “Looks like the good Doctor may be blind. He claims to have been to Yamal “many times” and yet he has never seen anything like this. I bet he thinks the crater is “unprecedented”

    Does anyone really wonder why many of us have such low opinions of many “scientists”?”

    It’s like art under the Catholic Church in the 13-16th century, mostly about Jesus and Maria. Or he has one or more pingo’s in his head?

  65. milodonharlani says: “IMO kettles & pingos form in similar ways.”

    My understanding is that kettles involve ice above ground and pingos ice below ground. In this case the crucial difference is that kettles would have formed thousands of years ago when the glaciers disappeared and _do not form anymore_ in Yamal, while pingos are still active, still changing the landscape. Apparently, these new crater formations formed quickly. How fast it happened should be investigated, so it can be judged whether regular pingo collapse can explain it.

    I’m sceptical towards Don Easterbrook’s approach simply to look at satellite images and conclude that the many ponds formed the same way as these new structures. I think it’s incorrect, since most of these ponds (if they are kettles) do not form anymore.

    If the point is simply to say that ice was somehow involved, then it’s likely correct, but everybody already agrees on that, right? The meteorite hypothesis was quickly abandoned. The interesting bit is exactly how ice was involved.

  66. Mystery of the Siberian crater deepens: Scientists left baffled …

    Real scientists are not baffled, only the affirmative action promoted pseudo-scientists racing to get their names in the media.

    I do love when a current event makes headlines and draws out the fakes and phonies from their cushy jobs to make clear unambiguous statements identifying them as under-achieving low-IQ frauds. These subjects are irresistible to them, they cannot help themselves. It’s kind of like them wearing a sign on their back that says ‘I am a dumbass’.

    Shhh, don’t anyone mention Occam’s Razor to them ( especially that loon women “scientist” who immediately jumped the shark by blaming Global Warming ) because they might accidentally slit their wrists with it.

  67. Stephen Rasey says:
    August 1, 2014 at 10:09 pm
    Even supposing a methane increase, with a summer melting of the cap, there will be ample opportunities for leakage through more than hundred feet circumference of less-than-ideal seal. The heterogeneous makeup of the seal and the unevenness of its melting argue for slow leak rather than a “pop.”

    Permafrost is pretty much a horizontally homogenous gas seal.

  68. Oh good grief. Duster, Bill H., et al of their ilk: are you totally unable to do any research on your own? Journalists want to sell stories. Some ‘scientists’ are clearly scientists only in their own mind.

    Here’s a clue for you: go to Google images ans search on “hydrolaccolith”, the scientific term for pingo. There you will see images IDENTICAL to the ‘mysterous’ crators being reported. Then go to any resource, even Wikipedia will do, and search on either word. There you will read, “Recent estimates indicate that more than 11,000 pingos exist on Earth, with more than 6,000 alone in northern Asia.[9]”

    There is still some excellent science being done; science I can’t begin to understand. But I am convinced that journalism is dead, and the ones claiming to be journalists seek out the most ignorant or intellectually dishonest scientist to obtain the most outrageous quote for the purpose of creating a story where none exists.

  69. Kip Hansen (August 1, 2014 at 12:09 pm) “Jimbo gave a couple of quotes, but here are Revkins bits” “She describes how the first hole (and presumably the new one) appear to have formed as methane is released from a warming mix of ice, water and soil, building up pressure that explosively pushed out the top of the hole, heaving chunks of earth many yards in some directions. She said there were no signs of combustion, that the hole had to be at least a year old because there was fresh greenery from this summer season with no overlying layer of mud or the like.”

    She’s probably wrong about the methane release. The vertical crack in the permafrost that results in these holes first pushes up dirt around the center. Those “chunks of earth” heaved in many directions are simply frost heaves near the crack. The next step is widening of the crack and collapse of the hole. The last step is a pingo.

    Here’s a pictorial description: http://www.fws.gov/refuge/arctic/permcycle.html The only thing that doesn’t match this description is that isolated nature of these holes. In the description the cracks are not isolated, and surrounding cracks would also form holes (not sure about the time scale).

    Other possibility of course is a collapsed pingo (picture near the ned of the sequence). But the random chunks of earth are a little harder to fit with that theory, there should be more or less a hill with the hole in the middle.

    The last possibility is the mainstream media meme of methane bursts pushing out material echoed by the scientist. Very remote possibility, the main reason being is that methane venting would result in a very choppy ground all around and not a perfectly round hole.

  70. Bill H. (August 1, 2014 at 1:26 pm) “Yet almost all the posters here demonstrate a child-like trust that the wise Dr. Easterbrook (whose research background, judging from Google Scholar, does not cover geomorphological features such as pingos, so he would appear to be speaking as a layperson here) must be correct, and the experts in such features who are puzzled are dismissed as idiots, or, worse, peddlers of some kind of AGW religion ”

    Then you need to read further. Several people have pointed out how these are not typical collapsed pingos. If you look into the experts you will not find any consensus that this is some new alarming phenomenon due to methane expulsion. In fact that is only the the result of the media cherry picking the experts and quotes that they like.

  71. Duster (August 1, 2014 at 9:39 am) “So, here’s a thought. Could there be masses of methane ice or more likely clathrates under Yamal that also cause pingo formation?”

    Here’s your challenge: explain why the hole is perfectly round. Sinkholes can be perfectly round from circular surface formations or conical subsurface formations. The problem with the methane theory is that there is no evidence of tubes of methane or anything like that.

  72. Here is a nice example of a pingo hill (described as a frost-heave) in Yamal that has not collapsed yet. Not quite as big as the example we are talking about but perhaps half.

    Another in Yakutia to the east. Same size as the current example but this is in a semi-treed area versus Yamal which only had trees in the MWP and the Holocene.

    Many pics from a “geocryology” focussed website of permafrost features.

    http://www.netpilot.ca/geocryology/Photo%20Gallery/default.htm

  73. Jim Clarke says:
    August 1, 2014 at 7:21 am
    …..
    I very much appreciate Don Easterbrook’s article on pingos, and agree that it is the best explanation so far, but I still have some questions, mainly because this Yamal hole is so deep! Are pingo lakes typically this deep?

    ===========================
    I agree on all counts Jim. A quick check of Wikipedia the other day convinced me that pingos are real enough — although I’ve never seen one or the remains of one. And I’m willing to believe that the first hole to make the news is a pingo although, I like you am bothered by the depth of the hole. Not that I disbelieve that it’s a pingo. It’s just that I can’t quite envision how it evolved to its current state. If it’s a result of melting, there must be some sort of (deep?) drain?

    The other minor point is that the locals near the second two holes seem to have reported that they appeared overnight and there were explosion sounds. The “explosive” origin could be imagination or confusion with some other phenomenon — thunder perhaps? We all know how unreliable “eyewitnesses” are. But still, if there was/were explosion(s) it’d be nice to have an explanation of how they came about.

  74. @Philip Bradley at 3:03 am
    Permafrost is pretty much a horizontally homogenous gas seal.

    But we are not talking about permafrost, are we?
    We are talking about permafrost, punctured by artesian spring frozen by polar winter into sod covered ice plugs, then differentially melting during the summer.

    “Pretty much” I agree with. My point was that the places where these pingo are forming (and melting) are the exception and the point of weakness. For a pop, the entire ice plug must go at once with no premature leakage around the perimeter and for an irregularly shaped ice plug, that’s asking a lot..

    But here is a thought to mull: Could a methane gas cap be a pressure driver of the artesian system? When the methane leaks, up dip from the pingo, the water table at the pingo drops quickly. Personally, I rate this as a low probability — I think downdip changes to the artesian system are the better bet.

  75. Here is some exposed permafrost at Tuktoyaktuk with pingos in the background. These are definitely not a new phenomenon.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/thawing-permafrost-sinks-buildings-hikes-costs-in-north-1.1108686

    It seems that climate scientists and journalists are gradually ‘discovering’ geological phenomena one at a time and the hyperbole continues. I wish they would take a geology course and calm down. The ignorant belief in sea rise to submerge atolls and deltas is a favourite, but it is well known to geologists for over a century that both these features rise with the sealevel. I studied it in the 1950s. Hansen’s discovery that there had been a half a degree of warming since late 19th Century, coupled with his astronomical studies of planet Venus led him to the alarm that we where headed for Venus’s fate is another example. The temperature swings of the earth over geological history soon came to his and colleagues notice from geologists and instead of putting an end to the matter, they had to make a two decade warming of 0.5C (with a little help from putting his thumb on the scale), as being different, unprecedented. A pause and cooling that is now longer than the ‘unprecedented’ warming has forced some understanding of natural variability upon them. Gee whiz, they could have had all this and more with Geology 101, 201… in a year or two at school. I’ve mentioned before that a PhD sociological study (that will never be done) could determine the percentage of the population that are thinkers (real skeptics, not simple contrarians) and the overwhelming proportion of those who are uncritical accepters of whatever is put in front of them.

  76. Some science snuck in to the Scientific American article about the holes:

    “This part of Siberia contains deep gas fields, and it also contains a lot of small lakes, which formed between 4,000 and 10,000 years ago when the climate was warmer”

    Alas Slate was not concerned with science:

    “It’s as if the Earth is celebrating. Soon, no more humans!”

  77. Steinar Midtskogen says:
    August 2, 2014 at 12:47 am

    Kettles may form from exposed ice blocks stuck in the ground, but IMO typically are covered with some windblown or otherwise deposited sediment before melting. But in any case they do as you observe melt sooner than the blocks buried in tall, conical hills, ie pingos.

  78. Stephen Rasey says:
    August 2, 2014 at 8:42 am

    But we are not talking about permafrost, are we?
    We are talking about permafrost, punctured by artesian spring frozen by polar winter into sod covered ice plugs, then differentially melting during the summer.

    You seem to be assuming some role for the conventional pingo forming mechanism.

    I am not.

    I think they merely look something like pingos.

    See my reference to ‘pingo like structures’ above. Especially, the older biological material lying on top of newer material around the edges of these structures. That for me is conclusive of the structures being formed by extrusive pressure from below. Quite unlike the pingo forming mechanism.

    I’d also note that despite the dramatic pictures, these features are small. The original one was only 100 ft across. The 2 more recently discovered, only 44 and 13 feet across.

    I suspect this is a fairly common phenomena, gone un-noticed to date.

    regards

  79. So to sum it all up:

    1) Some new craters were discovered in one of the most remote places on earth

    2) Despite having an well known and documented cause the news media jumped on the global warming bandwagon (Why not meteors, well astronomers would be quick to debunk that and hey global warming causes everything right)

    3) The responsible scientist come forward and say it’s not global warming

    Now there are two ways I see this going forward.

    1) Just forget that global warming was ever mentioned and continue to study this as a unique instance of a well known natural occurrence

    2) Keep claiming it’s global warming long after rational scientist have discarded that theory

    Now which do you think is more likely.

  80. Remember the film “Chronicle”? If you climb inside one of these things maybe you would come out posessing telekinetic powers.

  81. An old classmate of mine, Gary Wingo*
    had a sub that he kept in a pingo.
    It was yellow and clean
    a most righteous machine
    but one day he could not make the thingo.

    So he sent for an expert named Ringo
    who claimed he could fix it, by jingo
    “I’ll just replace the gaskets
    with the ones in this basket
    made of leather I tanned from a dingo.”

    * Real fellow

    Isn’t there a female politician / scientist named Slingo?

  82. Congratulations to Bill H for pulling off a standard internet troll meme. The “I don’t come here much anymore, but back in the mythical Golden Age I’m pretending to remember, everyone was ever so much smarter and didn’t post things I don’t like. So you are poopy heads.” Pretty funny and it’s a classic.

    I’ve been hanging around here pretty much since day one and the discourse is at as a high a level as ever. I’m generally pretty knowledgable about many of the topcs discussed here, but I learn something nearly every visit.

  83. @Philip Bradley at 11:22 am
    [to Stephen Rasey]
    You seem to be assuming some role for the conventional pingo forming mechanism.

    Indeed I am. Occam’s Razor: It states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Other, more complicated solutions may ultimately prove correct, but—in the absence of certainty—the fewer assumptions that are made, the better. [Wikipedia]

    I am content to call these Open System Pingos [Wikipedia] that have met an unusual demise — the relatively sudden drop in the water table.

    An Open System Pengo is an artesian spring that freezes solid in the polar winter like the permafrost around it. But hydrostatic pressures of the artesian system exert pressure from below to lift the ice plug. The Pingo core is less dense than the permafrost around it, so the Pingo ice is buoyant, much like a salt diaper and grows vertically. They have an old cap with new material scraped from the permafrost sides of the core transported up to the surface at the edges of the pingo and deposited with the melt water during the summer. Think of them as a vertical glacier, with hydrostatic forces moving the glacier up, depositing its moraines circumferentially on the surface around the ice core.

    What is different about these holes from normal pingo structures? They are holes, of course. What is important is that they are not holes filled to the surface with water. The water table in the vicinity of these holes is 40 to 80 meters below the surface. Either:
    1. these never were artesian systems, the water table has always been low, and therefore they are not Open System Pingos, which I guess is something like your hypothesis, or
    2. They WERE Open System Pingos, but something made the water table drop quickly, killing off the Pingos we know about — and probably many others soon to reveal themselves.

    Do I know what caused the water table to drop? But I have three theories:
    1. a methane gas cap in the aquifer under the permafrost was maintaining artesian level hydrostatic head. Something caused the methane gas cap to depressurize, and the hydrostatic head dropped quickly. I view this as very unlikely.
    2. other Pingos that are part of the same artesian aquifer that are down slope from these mysterious holes have melted this year more than usual and are gushing water, lowering the water table for Pingos upslope. This is quite possible, but there will be an obvious surface change in water flow compared to previous years. It is testable.
    3. Gazprom has been developing for the past 8 years a super-giant gas field, Bovanenkovo (over 170 TCF, that’s 170,000 BCF, in place) roughly 30 km away from these mysteries; these dead pingos. There may be other developments near by, too. From where is the Yamal Project getting its fresh water for drilling fluids, formation stimulation and operations? Where can they get a year-round water supply? Could it be the aquifers that fed these now-dead Pingos? This, too, is a testable hypothesis… If we could get the data from Gazprom. This is the hypothesis I find most likely.

  84. Stephen Rasey says:
    August 2, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    Excellent dot-connection on your part, based upon solid information.

  85. Explosion or Implosion? — “Pop” or “Plop?”

    As written above, I am a supporter that these mysterious Yamal holes are “Open System Pingos” that have met their demise by a relatively rapid drop in the hydrostatic head of the artesian system that gave birth to the pingos.

    Given that hypothesis, how can I explain the “explosions”?

    The other minor point is that the locals near the second two holes seem to have reported that they appeared overnight and there were explosion sounds. The “explosive” origin could be imagination or confusion with some other phenomenon — thunder perhaps? We all know how unreliable “eyewitnesses” are. But still, if there was/were explosion(s) it’d be nice to have an explanation of how they came about. [from Don K 8/2 7:01 am]

    What I think they heard was not the “Pop” of “a mixture of water, salt, and gas igniting an underground” [ Really, Ms Kurchatova ?? ]
    but the “Plop” and “Whump” of a multi-kiloton partially melted pingo Ice core and cap rock, giving way and plunging 20-50 meters to the bottom of the pingo shaft. I bet it even shakes the ground when it hits bottom.

    It was an Implosion, not an explosion. It fell in on itself.
    There is no need for an underground methane explosion. (Where is the source of oxygen? If water, salt, and methane was a common explosive mixture, we would not have a Natural Gas Industry.) Gravity plus a big, partially melted pingo core and its caprock, hanging above a now airfilled, or methane filled, chamber where the artesian waters once filled, is all the potential energy you need for a big, reportable, “Thud”.

    Presto. Next morning, there is a new hole formed, someone who reported a sudden noise like an explosion, the ground might have even shook. No explosive evidence scattered on the country-side. No burn marks. A nice clean hole, with a counter-sunk rim. With ice and (melt) water at the bottom.

  86. Dr. Easterbrook. Please learn how to properly quote and respond. Using all caps is considered very bad form.

  87. A reasonable and cheap test of the Implosion theory.

    The Implosion, “Plop” theory argues that the pingo cap soils and plants went straight down and is under the water at the bottom of the hole.

    Drop an ocean-bottom or lake-bottom coring tube into the bottom of these mysterious holes. Do you find the core’s contents include tundra, pingo-cap soils and plants? .
    If yes, then how did they get there if it was an explosive event?
    If no, then Implosion looks less likely.

  88. Stephen Rasey says:
    August 2, 2014 at 6:25 pm
    Explosion or Implosion? — “Pop” or “Plop?”

    What you don’t explain is the material up to 1 meter deep deposited around the edge of the hole.

    I can’t see how this could occur without a ‘pop’ (or an impact, which we both discount). Of course, once the initial pop has occured, there will be a ‘plop’ as the material not falling outside the hole, falls back in, especially if there was a gas filled cavity.

    I am not suggesting combustion. Movement of substantial amounts of material, up, down or both would produce noise, which would sound like distant explosions.

    It seems no one has sampled the material deposited around the hole. If it contains older biological material, this would be conclusive of a ‘pop’.

    Also from wikipedia.

    Aristotle writes in his Posterior Analytics, “we may assume the superiority ceteris paribus [all things being equal] of the demonstration which derives from fewer postulates or hypotheses.”

    You can’t disregard the evidence of material deposited around the hole, because it doesn’t fit your theory.

    * If my theory is correct, I’d expect to see the hole at the center of a somewhat raised dome, as described in the ‘pingo like features’ paper above. I can’t tell from the photographs whether the surrounding land is raised or not.

  89. Where are the geologists amongst us? Personally it looks like a sink hole from an old volcanic tuf.
    What about the lake that has just appeared in the Tunisian desert. Blue to start with now green algae, that could be a health hazard if it is blue green algae to the bathing people and any animals that drink the water. At least the hole is not near any human settlement.

  90. @Philip Bradley at 7:10 pm
    [To Stephen Rasey]
    What you don’t explain is the material up to 1 meter deep deposited around the edge of the hole.

    I do explain it.

    Think of them as a vertical glacier, with hydrostatic forces moving the glacier up, depositing its moraines circumferentially on the surface around the ice core.

    You and I differ on WHEN the “material up to 1 meter deep” was deposited. I think it was deposited many decades ago as the pingo grew. When it collapsed, the cap and attach sod on the flanks of the dome fell into the hole. I gather you think most of that rim was deposited during the pop, but I think there is too much and too localized to have happened overnight.

    I’ll modify my Implosion theory slightly. More like extending it. When the ice core, cap and sod fall into a gas (air, methane, whatever) filled cavity (that once held the artesian water, now removed), the gas will have to escape. There will be a “jet” of that gas out of the hole as the core falls into it. A burp. That jet could expel a minor amount of material. Not the ring moraine piled up on the edge but the odd dirt clod.

    It seems no one has sampled the material deposited around the hole. If it contains older biological material, this would be conclusive of a ‘pop’.
    Older than what?
    It is difficult to believe no one has sampled the material from the raised ring (circular moraine) around the hole. We may not know what they found. But I expect the ring moraine to be quite old because it was deposited during the growth of the pingo, not overnight in either a pop or plop. If someone cross sections that moraine I don’t think they will find tundra buried less than 2 years — unless there was slumping of the pingo flanks as the core collapsed in the implosion.

  91. Stephen Rasey says:
    August 2, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    You and I differ on WHEN the “material up to 1 meter deep” was deposited. I think it was deposited many decades ago as the pingo grew. When it collapsed, the cap and attach sod on the flanks of the dome fell into the hole. I gather you think most of that rim was deposited during the pop, but I think there is too much and too localized to have happened overnight.

    Indeed we do.

    In the photographs in my most recent link above, the bulk of the IMO extruded material looks ‘fresh’ with minimal vegetative growth indicating a recent event.

    In addition, the permafrost here is at least 100 meters thick and probably more like 300 meters thick. This would make it structurally stable and I have trouble seeing gravity alone having the force to collapse it in such a small area. And note the more recently discovered smaller holes. I’d say it would be impossible to collapse these by gravity alone due to the permafrost thickness.

    Were this a pingo moraine as you propose, I’d expect to see signs of erosion, which I don’t. But erosion over decades wouldn’t be too obvious on photographs I’ve seen.

    Thanks for the interesting discussion. I think the Russian scientists will likely resolve this for us in not too long.

  92. @Philip Bradley at 12:48 am
    In the photographs in my most recent link above, the bulk of the IMO extruded material looks ‘fresh’ with minimal vegetative growth indicating a recent event.
    I agree with all this. As well as the thick stable permafrost

    But I can achieve it with a normal pingo, who’s supportive artesian system has been hydrostatically killed, probably by Gazprom needs for fresh water. This spring, the decades old existing pingo ice core with a bulbous top that was supported by the artesian system found itself hanging many meters above the now lowered artesian water table. As the summer warmed, the ice core melted to the point where catastrophically failed and fell into the gap. It imploded. As it fell, the tundra cap of the pingo and its connected sod on the flanks of the pingo fell into the hole. There is also a “burp” of gas displaced by the falling ice and sod. What is left is naked circumferential moraine (deposited decades ago) on the edges of what looks like a countersunk hole.

    It was a Plop. And it tore the tundra off the sides of the pingo as it fell.

  93. Question to anyone still following this thread…is there any chance that the shock waves from the Chelyabinsk meteorite in 2013 had anything to do with these “popping”? The energy waves generated by the meteore’s explosion circled the globe twice according to scientific readings…surely that much resonance/pressure, energy could do it….yes? No?

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