Batagaika – Huge crater in the taiga of northern Siberia

Batagaika - Huge crater in the taiga of northern Siberia

Batagaika – Huge crater in the taiga of northern Siberia.

Getting to this place is an adventure. If you want to get to the crater by land, you can only do so four months of the year. Because the road leading to it is passable only when the rivers freeze completely. From the small village of Batagai, he sets off along a narrow field road stretching for miles through the coniferous forests of Siberia – until he suddenly finds himself in front of a huge precipice. This is the largest sinkhole of this type in the world, already over 1,500 meters long. And it keeps getting bigger.

Its steep walls fall down to a depth of up to 120 meters, loud creaks can be heard around, and trees repeatedly slide from the edge into the abyss. Cracks and furrows cut through the muddy bottom, where the tracks of curious bears are visible. Those who manage to find a reasonably safe descent to the bottom of the crater should not stay there for too long. Because the ground behaves like quicksand in places. In short, each step could be the last. For all these reasons, this place is a mecca for adventurers, and at the same time a paradise for climatologists.

One of them is Alexander Fedorov from Russia’s Permafrost Institute: – “The underground ice is melting, releasing huge amounts of trapped methane, so the environment here is changing very quickly. That’s why we come every year and measure the ground’s collapse.” For Fedorov and his associates, this place is like a gateway to the past. Reason? The successive layers of the soil of the sinkhole and the plant remains present in them reveal what climatic changes have affected Siberia over the last 650,000 years. In addition, scientists come across the bones of extinct animal species all the time, such as wild horses and mammoths. And this, in turn, attracts adventurers and ivory hunters from the most remote corners of the globe.

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