Video shows world's largest permafrost crater in Russia grows as planet warms

By India Today World Desk: Batagaika crater permafrost in Russia’s Siberia, also known as “mouth to hell”, is melting as a result of the planet getting warmer day by day. Batagaika crater is a 282-feet-deep gaping hole in the Earth’s surface and locals believe it is a passage to the underworld.

A gash that is nearly two-thirds of a mile long in Russia’s Far East forms the world’s largest permafrost crater, and as the planet warms, it is getting bigger and bigger
— Reuters (@Reuters) July 22, 2023

Drone visuals have revealed details of the Batagaika crater, which shows two explorers clambering across uneven terrain at the base of the depression, marked by irregular surfaces and small hummocks. The video shows permafrost underground begun to melt, causing the land to sink.

The crater began to appear in the 1960s as a result of deforestation in the area. The deforestation led to the loss of ground ice, which then caused the earth to begin eroding.

The “gateway to the underworld,” as some locals in Russia’s Sakha Republic also call it, has a scientific name: a mega-slump.


Scientists have warned that the phenomenon is a sign of danger. Thawing permafrost has already threatened cities and towns across northern and northeastern Russia. It has buckled roadways, split apart houses, and disrupted pipelines. Vast wildfires, which have become more intense in recent seasons, have added to the problem.

“We locals call it ‘the cave-in,'” local resident and crater explorer Erel Struchkov told Reuters. “It developed in the 1970s, first as a ravine. Then by thawing in the heat of sunny days, it started to expand.”

“The expansion of the slump is a sign of danger. This is produced by higher air temperatures, by warming climate, by anthropogenic impact. “Nikita Tananayev, lead researcher at the Melnikov Permafrost Institute in Yakutsk, told Reuters.

“In future, with increasing temperatures and with higher anthropogenic pressure, we will see more and more of those mega-slumps forming, until all the permafrost is gone,” Tananayev told Reuters.

Scientists aren’t sure exactly how fast the crater will expand but they have warned that Russia is warming at least 2.5 times faster than the rest of the world.

Locals in Sakha have taken note of the crater’s rapid growth.

“Two years ago the edge was about 20-30 metres away from this path. And now, apparently, it is much closer,” Struchkov said.

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