The Mysterious Yamal Crater, The So-Called “End of The World Crater,” Formed By Unusual Cryovolcanic Activity

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Russian scientists concluded that the mysterious Yamal crater, the so-called “end of the world crater” formed in 2014 on the remote Yamal Peninsula in northern Siberia was the result of unusual cryovolcanic activity on Earth. Cryovulcanism is generally observed on other planets and satellites.

A cryovolcano is a volcano of ice and water, but its basic structure is practically identical to the Earth’s volcanic rocks. In extremely cold conditions, a cryovolcano does not release molten rocks, but water and other chemical compounds, such as ammonia and methane, in a liquid and gaseous state.

According to the new research published in Scientific Reports, the mysterious Yamal crater appears to be the result of the collapse of a large pingo, a small hill typical of polar regions, which formed inside a lake that later dried up.

This allowed a large talik, a layer or body of unfrozen soil in a permafrost area, underneath it to freeze. The pingo collapsed under cryogenic hydrostatic pressure accumulated in the closed system of the frozen talik. This happened before the freezing was complete, when a wet soil core remained unfrozen and stored a large amount of carbon dioxide dissolved in interstitial water.

The mysterious Yamal crater, the “end of the world crater,” appeared due to unusual cryovolcanic activity

When the structure reached the end of the gas phase, the resulting overpressure exceeded the confining stress of the lithosphere and the force of the superimposed ice. When the pingo exploded, the demarcation of the crater followed the cylindrical shape of the remaining talik nucleus, conclude the scientists, headed by Sergey N. Buldovicz of Moscow’s Lomonosov University.

The “end of the world crater,” the mysterious Yamal crater, was discovered in 2014 on the Yamal peninsula. However, its origin was unknown until now.

Several theories included the fall of a meteorite or the melting of permafrost due to the global warming. It quickly filled with water and by the fall of 2016 became a lake, with a maximum depth of only 52 meters and approximately 25 meters in diameter. Now its mystery has been solved out as the scientists consider that the Yamal crater formed by unusual cryovolcanic activity.

Stacy Richardson

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