Siberian Mystery Craters
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Basic Information

In mid-July, 2014 a group of reindeer herders on the Yamal Peninsula in northern Siberia came across a huge hole in the earth, approximately 80 meters (230 feet) wide. The name Yamal means "End of the World," and the gaping abyss certainly looked pretty close to something like that. In the next couple weeks, two more smaller craters were found in the Siberian Tundra. Geologists studying these holes believe they came into existence sometime during the preceding 24 months.

Scientists have not entirely agreed at what has caused these holes to appear, but most of the theories blame the melting of the Siberian permafrost. Dr Jason Box, a professor in glaciology at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland cites increased levels of methane in the atmosphere in the region, what he calls "Dragon Breaths" and suggests that the holes may have been cause by the release of gas that had previously been trapped under the permafrost.

Bubbles of methane have been noted rising up in the Arctic Ocean since 2011.

Several other scientists, including Chris Fogwill of the University of New South Wales in Australia and Kenji Yokishawa of the University of Alaska Fairbanks suggest that the mystery crater is a sinkhole, caused by a melting pingo; a large, earth-covered mound of ice sometimes found in Arctic regions.

Vladimir Romanovski, a geophysicist at the Universiy of Alaska Fairbanks, points out that most sinkholes caused by melting ice, collapse inward and form over the course of decades. The Yamal crater seems to have occurred suddenly; and the piles of dirt up to 1 meter (3 feet) high around the hole suggest that something underground burst. Like Box, he theorizes that a pocket of gas under pressure was released by the melting ice above it. There are deep natural gas fields in that region of Siberia, as well as several small lakes which might have originally formed in a similar manner.

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Game and Story Use

  • A hole like the Yamal crater would be an interesting terrain feature for PC's traveling across an arctic wilderness to encounter.
  • Were the craters really caused by Climate Change; or was it something weirder?
  • Maybe they were literally caused by "Dragon's Breath" and there is an enormous creature trapped under the Siberian landscape.
    • It's Cthulhu, I tell you! Cthulhu!!!!
      • Yes, this Arcanist always says that.
  • Do the craters have any connection to the Hollow Earth?
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