Local people have superstitious fear of this natural mystery – Patomskiy Crater. This place is unusual indeed and up to this time, we do not know for sure how it formed. People created many exotic theories, some even involving fallen UFO with a nuclear engine. Currently, most specialists consider that this mysterious crater is a unique type of volcano.
Name in Russian
Diameter (betwen the rims of crater)
Map of the site
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Patomskiy Crater is a large cone which for the most part consists of limestone pieces, although there are found other rocks too – sandstone, shale, etc. The limestone is very old, formed in Proterozoic eon.
This natural mystery 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 the crater has a diameter of 76 m.
Central part – the crater itself – is some 12 – 15 m deep. In the center of this recession, there is located a smaller hill which is some 34 m wide.
Rough estimates show that the 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 gave it a name – Fire Eagle Nest. It seems this name tells something about the geological history of the site: most likely heat or fire was involved in its creation.
Yakuts considered that Patomskiy Crater is an evil place which is even dangerous to people and avoided also by forest animals.
The young geologist Vadym Kolpakov who was entitled to make a geological mapping in this remote part of Siberia was the first known man of European descent who reached these environs in 1949. 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 a fever. The enormous crater looked outlandish and completely out of place as if the young geologist saw it in a dream and not in reality.
Thus the site continues to have a bad name up to this day. According to some stories people feel sick near it and locals have stories about people who went missing or dead here. Also one leader of the scientific mission, Eugeny Vorobiev suddenly died here in 2005 from a 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 natural mystery
Kolpakov considered that he has discovered an excellent and unusual impact crater. Some specialists considered that the crater was formed by a piece of Tunguska meteorite in 1908 – another natural mystery in this part of Siberia.
Nevertheless scientists understood soon enough that Patomskiy Crater differs from impact craters and has been formed by some other processes. Several specialists considered that it was created by a fall of extremely heavy substances. There was even an exotic theory about UFOs which tumbled here and subsided deep in the ground. According to this story, its nuclear engine at first survived – and then exploded later and created the smaller bulge in the center of the crater.
There existed also other theories: about work of ancient civilizations, about a top-secret facility in Stalin times and others.
Possible natural history of crater
Currently geologists assume 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 the crater and near it.
According to this analysis formation of the Patomskiy crater started some 500 years ago. Then, at the end of the 15th century – early 16th century due to some process many trees fell and many new ones started to grow here some 480 – 400 years ago. At this time formed the inner part of the 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.
The last episode was the formation of the bulge inside the crater – it consists of the least weathered rocks. Specialists could not date it because there are no trees inside the crater which would provide data.
Nevertheless, we do not know for sure how the crater was formed. Its formation can be compared to volcanic processes but scientists do not know comparable examples of volcanism in other locations on Earth except for a similar, smaller crater in the Sayan Mountains (also in Russia) which is some 10 – 15 m tall.
- В.С. Антипин, А.М. Федоров. Патомский кратер в Восточной Сибири – современный вулкан, Природа, 2008. Accessed on 21st June 2017
Patomskiy Crater is included in the following list:
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Russian Book. Publisher: Piter. Pages: 256. Year: 2010. Cover: Hardcover.