MOSCOW — A natural phenomenon first observed by scientists just six years ago and now recurring with alarming frequency in Siberia is causing the ground to explode spontaneously and with tremendous force, leaving craters up to 100 feet deep.
When Yevgeny Chuvilin, a Moscow-based geologist with the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, arrived this summer at the rim of the latest blast site, called Crater 17, “it left quite an impression,” he said.
The pit plunged into darkness, surrounded by the table-flat, featureless tundra. As Chuvilin stood looking in, he said, slabs of dirt and ice occasionally peeled off the permafrost of the crater wall and tumbled in.
“It was making noises. It was like something alive,” Chuvilin said.
While initially a mystery, scientists have established that the craters appearing in the far north of western Siberia are caused by subterranean gases, and the recent flurry of explosions is