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Second crater found at 'End of the World': First giant hole still a mystery

As if one giant crater at the "End of the World" wasn't enough, now, apparently, there are two. While scientists continue to attempt to explain the presence of the first massive hole in the ground in Siberia, researchers have been reportedly led to the location of yet another rather large hole in the permafrost of the Yamal Peninsula.

Agence France-Presse reported (via Yahoo News) July 26 that researchers were led to the second Siberian hole, one similar to the first but not as massive, by reindeer herders. The second Siberian crater measures about 45 meters across (nearly 150 feet), whereas the giant hole that captivated the world's attention when it was initially discovered measures 60 meters (just shy of 200 feet). Local official Mikhail Lapsui told the Interfax-Ural news agency (per NBC News) that "snow can be seen" inside the crater." Little else is known about the second crater -- no photos or videos have been provided as yet -- except that it is located about 55 miles from the Russian village of Antipayuta.

Meanwhile, scientists sent to the first mysterious hole found in the Yamal (translation: "End of the World" in the local language) Peninsula by regional governor Dmitry Kobylkin have yet to uncover what might have caused what looks like a giant sinkhole in the permafrost. The problem, however, is that if there's one thing they're certain about, it is that the hole in Siberia is not a sinkhole. The hole and its immediate environs indicate that whatever caused its formation came from inside the Earth.

Initial theories, ones not associated with the lunatic fringish UFOs or government secret ray beams variety, included a gas explosion or some type of anomalous expulsion from the permafrost. But explosions were quickly ruled out when scientists discovered that the Siberian crater's walls had no burn indicators. (A meteorite impact, which would have also left a burn trail, had been ruled out by scientists and experts simply by viewing the original video taken by helicopter and posted to YouTube.) Scientists were left with a gas-forced ejection or the formation and melting of a large "pingo," or Earth-covered ice, as the most likely answers as to what formed the giant hole.

Vasily Bogoyavlensky, deputy director of the Oil and Gas Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Interfax, "At some point an explosion took place without any flame."

And as to whether or not the crater might have been man made, Marina Leibman, chief researcher at the Earth Cryosphere Institute (which studies the permafrost), said in a statement (per Agence France-Presse) released by Yamal officials that "a thorough search showed there were no traces of people or machinery" around the hole.

Andrei Plekhanov, a senior researcher at the state Scientific Centre for the Study of the Arctic and one of the first researchers on scene, said that studying the Siberian crater would be difficult due to the conditions around the site.

"It's deadly dangerous to go close because the sides of the raised mound around it constantly cave in," he said in a statement.

But there is good news for the future study of the crater. A measure of radiation levels in the area revealed that there was no dangerous radiation to fear.

The original hole found in Siberia is located roughly twenty miles from the gas fields of Bovanenkovo, which is a large extraction site. The Yamal Peninsula sits atop one of the largest gas reserves in the world, the largest in Russia. The Yamalo-Nenetsky region along the north coast of Siberia supplies over 80 percent of all natural gas produced by Russia.

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