Locals have heard ‘booms from the underworld’ in a giant ravine but now scientists say it holds secrets of the planet’s past.
Many Yakutian people are said to be scared to approach the Batagaika Crater – also known as the Batagaika Megaslump: believing in the upper, middle and under worlds, they see this as a doorway to the last of these.
The fearsome noises are probably just the thuds of falling soil at a landmark that is a one-kilometre-long gash up to 100 metres (328 feet) deep in the Siberian taiga.
Batagaika started to form in 1960s after a chunk of forest was cleared: the land sunk, and has continued to do so, evidently speeded by recent warmer temperatures melting the permafrost, so unbinding the layers on the surface and below. Major flooding in 2008 increased the size of the depression which grows at up to 15 metres per year.