Amazing photos: Weird holes in the not so permafrost.

By Mike Johnson

What are we looking at here? An alien planet? Special effects from James Cameran’s latest eco-fantasy? A fungus culture? A surreal painting.

It is none of those. It’s a present day picture of a section of Siberia where these strange sink holes have appeared almost overnight. (first reported in June of this year).

We are here:

Here’s close up of one of them as it looks on the surface:

The only rational explanation so far is that melting permafrost is to blame. Frost has a crystalline structure, and when it collapses it takes up less space. Weexpected subsidence, and we are seeing that too, but these holes, some of them apparently bottomless, are a new development.

They are not however bottomless. Some are quite shallow and there is usually water at the bottom as with this one:

And you can see the muddy water in the bottom of this shallow one.

Here are the inside walls of the first one. The markings might suggest a methane explosion. this was the first one discovered and it was seventy meters deep.

This side view shows where the water has leached away leaving typical shapes in the soil.

The worry with his is the methane that is released when the ice collapses and organic matter is exposed to decay for the first time in many of thousands of years. We can predict temperature rises, but but not all the consequences. If we look hard we don’t know what we might find.

download (5).jpg