Gallery D

Far Away Booms

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More Methane Explosions?

By James Donahue

At least two more giant holes from possible methane explosions have been discovered in the vast open Siberian tundra since the first one was discovered over a week ago.

The first discovery was a massive hole, about the size of a football field and an estimated 300 feet deep, was discovered by a pilot on Siberia’s remote Yamal peninsula near the Laptev Sea.

Now a second smaller hole, measuring about 50 feet across, has been found near the first one, and a third hole, about 200 to 300 feet wide, has been spotted several hundred miles northeast on the Taymyr Peninsula in the Krasnoyarsk Region, according to Russian news sources.

Are there more?

Research teams are being sent to study the two new holes in an attempt to get more information.

Anna Kurchatova, of the Sub-Arctic Scientific Research Center, has expressed alarm over the discoveries. Because of the way the earth is thrown upward and out of the holes, researchers are ruling out meteor strikes. Kurchatova believes they are being caused by explosions of methane ice that is melting under the permafrost.

The concern is that the blasts may be the first indication of a dangerously unstable region that is releasing massive amounts of methane gas.

Some researchers, however, doubt Kurchatova's theory. They question if an explosion would create such perfectly round holes in the earth. Thus the mystery grows stranger.

The problem with methane is that it is a highly flammable and explosive gas that is a more intense greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
As the earth warms, more and more methane is being released from the melting glaciers and ice caps where it has been trapped for hundreds of thousands of years. It was formed from rotting trees and vegetation that was trapped during extreme earth changing events that occurred in the distant past.

At this point scientists can only speculate on the amount of methane we are dealing with, or the effects it will have on the world’s changing climate in the months and years to come.