A mysterious crater has appeared at the “end of the world” in Siberia, leaving a pit 80m wide and so deep it has not yet been measured.
Researchers are being dispatched to investigate the hole, which has confounded scientists with its dramatic appearance.
Some have speculated it could have been made by a meteorite striking earth, an underground explosion, or is a sinkhole caused by collapsing rock, the Siberian Times reported.
One imaginative online commentator claimed it could even be evidence “of the arrival of a UFO craft” to the planet.
The area’s name, Yamal, translates as the “end of the world” and the remote peninsula reaches into the Arctic Ocean.
It holds some of Russia’s largest gas reserves and the crater appeared less than 20 miles from the biggest gas field, Bovanenkovo.
The dark colour of the crater’s sides was said in a Zvezda TV report to indicate “temperature processes” or burning.
Whatever caused it, it is large enough to comfortably fit several military helicopters in the entrance.