Batagaika started to form in 1960s after a chunk of forest was cleared: the land sunk, and has continued to do so, evidently speeded by recent warmer temperatures melting the permafrost

200,000-Year-Old Soil Found at Mysterious Crater, A 'Gate to the Subterranean World'

(Read the article on one page)

By The Siberian Times reporter

Locals have heard 'booms from the underworld' in a giant ravine but now scientists say it holds secrets of the planet's past.

Many Yakutian people are said to be scared to approach the Batagaika Crater - also known as the Batagaika Megaslump: believing in the upper, middle and under worlds, they see this as a doorway to the last of these. 

The fearsome noises are probably just the thuds of falling soil at a landmark that is a one-kilometre-long gash up to 100 metres (328 feet) deep in the Siberian taiga. 

Batagaika started to form in 1960s after a chunk of forest was cleared: the land sunk, and has continued to do so, evidently speeded by recent warmer temperatures melting the permafrost, so unbinding the layers on the surface and below. Major flooding in 2008 increased the size of the depression which grows at up to 15 metres per year.

Such 'thermokarst depressions' can be observed in the north of Canada, but Batagaika is two-to-three times deeper. Pictures: Alexander Gabyshev, Research Institute of Applied Ecology of the North

Such 'thermokarst depressions' can be observed in the north of Canada, but Batagaika is two-to-three times deeper. Pictures: Alexander Gabyshev, Research Institute of Applied Ecology of the North

Such 'thermokarst depressions' can be observed in the north of Canada, but Batagaika is two-to-three times deeper. Pictures: Alexander Gabyshev, Research Institute of Applied Ecology of the North

The result is an unparalleled natural laboratory for scientists seeking to understand the threat to permafrost due to climate change. 

A recent expedition to the partially manmade phenomenon sought to date the layers of soil which had been frozen in time as permafrost, and also to gather samples of plants and soil.

Until now, it was believed the layers of soil were around 120,000-years-old. But Professor Julian Murton from the University of Sussex - who inspected the site near the village of Batagai, in Verkhoyansk district, some 676 kilometres (420 miles) north of Yakutsk, capital of the Sakha Republic - determined that the correct age is around 200,000 years old. 

'This project will allow us to compare the data of similar objects in Greenland, China, Antarctica. Data on ancient soils and vegetation will help us to reconstruct the history of the Earth,' he told Russian journalists. 

Professor Julian Murton: 'Batagaika itself struck my imagination - its size is amazing, the crack itself is  perfectly exposed, uncovered, all the layers are perfectly visible and can be thoroughly studied

Professor Julian Murton: 'Batagaika itself struck my imagination - its size is amazing, the crack itself is  perfectly exposed, uncovered, all the layers are perfectly visible and can be thoroughly studied

Professor Julian Murton: 'Batagaika itself struck my imagination - its size is amazing, the crack itself is  perfectly exposed, uncovered, all the layers are perfectly visible and can be thoroughly studied.' Pictures: Research Institute of Applied Ecology of the North

'I was both surprised and excited to learn that we can date the samples found in the lower horizon as 200,000 years.' He explained: 'We found several layers of buried soils. Two of them look especially promising. They show that thousands of years ago the climate in the region of Verkhoyansk was the same as it is now, and even warmer. 

'We took the samples of the remains of trees to find out what kind of forests grew in this area. We also took the sediment samples - they will help us to find out what kind of soil predominated here in ancient times. Due to the permafrost, the preservation of organic is excellent. 

'Batagaika itself struck my imagination - its size is amazing, the crack itself is perfectly exposed, uncovered, all the layers are perfectly visible and can be thoroughly studied.'

The expedition was a 'pilot study' at one of 'most important' sites in the world for the study of permafrost. The samples will be examined in more detail at the Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems in Soil Science in Pushchino, near Moscow, he said.

The 'most important' sites in the world for the study of permafrost is located near the village of Batagai, in Verkhoyansk district, some 676 kilometres (420 miles) north of Yakutsk, capital of the Sakha Republic.

The 'most important' sites in the world for the study of permafrost is located near the village of Batagai, in Verkhoyansk district, some 676 kilometres (420 miles) north of Yakutsk, capital of the Sakha Republic.

The 'most important' sites in the world for the study of permafrost is located near the village of Batagai, in Verkhoyansk district, some 676 kilometres (420 miles) north of Yakutsk, capital of the Sakha Republic. Pictures: NEFU, The Siberian Times

The next stage of work here will 'study samples of ancient ice'. He noted that such 'thermokarst depressions' can be observed in the north of Canada, but Batagaika is two-to-three times deeper.

The director of the Research Institute of Applied Ecology of the North, Gregory Savvinov, said: 'In the 1960s there was a road between the village of Batagai and some industrial facilities. The forest was cut down, and this led to the formation of the ravine. In recent years, against the backdrop of climatic changes, due to the warming, the ravine grew to the size of crater.' 

In 2009 the carcass of a Holocene era foal - some 4,400 years old - was discovered, and a mummified carcass of a bison calf. Remains of ancient bison, horses, elks, mammoths, and reindeer were also found here. 

The area is one of the coldest places on the planet, and competes with Oymyakon, from the same region, for the title of the world's coldest inhabited place.

Comments

The last picture makes it look like a big sperm

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Top New Stories

Detail from Venus and Mars, Botticelli, tempera on panel
The Roman weekday ‘dies Veneris’ was named after the planet Venus, which in turn took its name from Venus, goddess of love. The origins of our days of the week lie with the Romans. The Romans named their days of the week after the planets, which in turn were named after the Roman gods:

Myths & Legends

A depiction of a tree of life or axis mundi.
What do Mount Fuji in Japanese culture, the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, Mecca in Islam, and the Black Hills for the Sioux all have in common? They are all examples of a belief in the axis mundi – a perceived center of the world, where Heaven and Earth are connected.

Human Origins

Silhouettes (Public Domain) in front of blood cells (Public Domain) and a gene.
Most people who have the Rh blood type are Rh-positive. There are also instances, however, where people are Rh-Negative. Health problems may occur for the unborn child of a mother with Rh-Negative blood when the baby is Rh-Positive.

Ancient Technology

Roman glass (not the legendary flexible glass). Landesmuseum Württemberg, Stuttgart.
Imagine a glass you can bend and then watch it return to its original form. A glass that you drop but it doesn’t break. Stories say that an ancient Roman glassmaker had the technology to create a flexible glass, ‘vitrium flexile’, but a certain emperor decided the invention should not be.

Ancient Places

A depiction of a tree of life or axis mundi.
What do Mount Fuji in Japanese culture, the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, Mecca in Islam, and the Black Hills for the Sioux all have in common? They are all examples of a belief in the axis mundi – a perceived center of the world, where Heaven and Earth are connected.

Opinion

Hopewell mounds from the Mound City Group in Ohio. Representative image
During the Early Woodland Period (1000—200 BC), the Adena people constructed extensive burial mounds and earthworks throughout the Ohio Valley in Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and West Virginia. Many of the skeletal remains found in these mounds by early antiquarians and 20th-Century archaeologists were of powerfully-built individuals reaching between 6.5 and eight feet in height (198 cm – 244 cm).

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article