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Patomskiy Crater (Kolpakova Cone)

Patomskiy Crater, Russia
Patomskiy Crater / Комсомольская Правда, screenshot from Youtube video

Main characteristics

Coordinates: 59.2847 N 116.5893 E
No:569        (list of all attractions)
Values:Geology, Unexplained
Address:Europe, Russia, eastern part of Irkutsk Oblast, Bodaybinsky District, some 360 km (by road) km north-east from Bodaibo
Name in Russian:Патомский кратер
Alternate names:Kolpakova Cone (Конус Колпакова), Jelbudinskiy Crater, Javaldinskiy Crater
Height (relative):˜ 40 m
Diameter (betwen the rims of crater):76 m
Diameter (base):˜ 120 - 160 m

Local people have superstitious fear of Patomskiy Crater. This unique natural formation is unusual indeed and up to this time it is not clear how it formed. There are many exotic theories, some involving fallen UFO with nuclear engine. Currently it is considered that this mysterious crater is unique type of volcano.


Patomskiy Crater is a large cone which for most part consists of limestone pieces, although here are found other rocks too - sandstone, shale etc. The limestone is very old, formed in Proterozoic eon.

This crater has formed on the slope of Patom Plateau and rises tall above the low, subarctic forest.

The crater is up to 40 m high. Its base is 120 - 160 m wide but the rim of crater has a diameter of 76 m.

Central part - the crater itself - is some 12 - 15 m deep. In the centre of this recession there is located smaller hill which is some 34 m wide.

It is assessed that volume of the crushed limestone blocks is some 230 - 250 thousand m³, weight - approximately one million tons.

Discovery of the evil place

Local people - Yakuts - knew about the crater long before Europeans and named it - Fire Eagle Nest. It seems, this name tells something about the geological history of the site - most likely some heat or fire has been involved in the creation of this crater.

Yakuts considered that Patomskiy Crater is evil place which is even dangerous to people and avoided also by forest animals.

In 1949 these environs were reached by the young geologist Vadym Kolpakov who was entitled to make geological mapping in this remote part of Siberia. Yakuts advised him to avoid the crater and, of course, Kolpakov did the opposite.

He recalls - as he reached the site, it seemed to him that he has got fever. The enormous crater looked outlandish and completely out of place as if the young geologist saw it in dream and not in reality.

In fact the site has got bad name up to this day. According to some stories people feel sick near it and locals have told that some people even went missing or dead here. Also one leader of scientific mission, Eugeny Vorobiev suddenly died here in 2005 from heart attack.

Scientific expeditions came to this remote part of Siberia in 1963 and then: in 2006., 2008 and 2010.

Exotic theories about the origin of the crater

Kolpakov considered that he discovered an excellent and unusual impact crater. Some specialists considered that the crater was formed by a piece of Tunguska meteorite in 1908 - another mysterious event in this part of Siberia.

But it was clear soon enough that Patomskiy Crater differs from impact craters and has been formed by some other processes. Several specialists considered that it has been created by a fall of extremely heavy substance. There was even an exotic theory about UFO which tumbled here and subsided deep in the ground. Its nuclear engine at first survived - and then exploded later and created the smaller bulge in the centre of crater.

There existed also other theories: about work of ancient civilizations, about top secret facility in Stalin times and others.

Possible natural history of crater

Currently it is considered that Patomskiy Crater was created by the internal (endogenous) processes of Earth. Geophysical research shows that there is no large metal object or meteorites below the crater.

The age of these processes was determined by the tree-ring analysis of the few trees growing on the slopes of crater and near it.

According to this analysis formation of Patomskiy crater started some 500 years ago. Then, at the end of the 15th century - early 16th century many trees were felled by some process and many new ones started to grow here some 480 - 400 years ago. At this time formed the inner part of crater (but not the central bulge) - limestone blocks here are weathered to a greater extent.

Some centuries later, in 1841 - 1842 the outer layer of the cone formed. At this time many trees around the crater were damaged, thus these events were quite violent and very well could have caused the bad fame of the crater among Yakuts.

Latest episode was the formation of the bulge inside the crater - it consists of least weathered rocks. It has not been dated because there are no trees inside the crater which would provide data.

It is not entirely clear though how the crater was formed. Its formation can be compared to volcanic processes but such kind of volcanism is not known from other locations on Earth except for similar, smaller crater in Sayan Mountains (also in Russia) which is some 10 - 15 m tall.


See Patomskiy Crater on the map of Russia!


  1. В.С. Антипин, А.М. Федоров. Патомский кратер в Восточной Сибири – современный вулкан, Природа, 2008. Accessed on 21st June 2017

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