Scientists dispatched to investigate the mysterious hole that appeared on Siberia's Yamal Peninsula are back with their initial findings, and they've more or less confirmed that it's some sort of natural phenomenon occurring in the region's permafrost.
Here's what else they learned:
- It's approximately 50 to 70 meters (164 to 230 feet) deep
- The diameter, while reportedly hard to measure exactly, is approximately 30 meters (98 feet)
- It's about 80 percent filled with ice, which is slowly melting in the sun
- It appeared "relatively recently" -- within the past couple of years
The scientists, doing what scientists do, also debunked the conspiracy theories: "There is nothing mysterious about it," scientist Andrei Plekhanov assured the Siberian Times. "There is no weird or unexplained feelings there, we came back safe and sound."
As to reports that global warming has something to do with it: Plekhanov says more research is needed. "Two previous summers -- years 2012 and 2013 were relatively hot for Yamal, perhaps this has somehow influenced the formation of the crater," he said. "But we have to do our tests and research first and then say it more definitively."
The crater might, the researchers added, eventually become a lake -- if so, it would offer insight into the region's geographic history. "Such kind of processes were taking place about 8,000 years ago," Plekhanov explained. "Perhaps they are repeating nowadays. If this theory is confirmed, we can say that we have witnessed a unique natural process that formed the unusual landscape of Yamal Peninsula."
You can see photos from the expedition here.