Could Gas Explosions Explain Bermuda Triangle?
The cause behind the Bermuda Triangle could also explain mysterious holes appearing in Siberia.
The discovery of several mysterious craters in Siberia earlier this year launched a wave of speculation about their origins. Now, a new report suggests an explanation for the holes, claiming it could also be linked to the mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle.
However, other scientists not involved in the new report say the weird sinkhole mechanism likely doesn't explain vanishings in the Bermuda Triangle - a place that has never been proven to exist.
In July, Siberian reindeer herders discovered a huge crater on the Yamal Peninsula, which means "end of the world." Later, two more gaping holes were found, one in the Taz District and one on the Taymyr Peninsula. But while scientists speculated as to the cause of these weird Siberian holes, their origin remained a mystery.
In July, Russian scientists reported in the journal Nature that the explosive release of gases trapped in the permafrost - known as methane hydrates - likely carved out the enormous sinkholes. Air near the crater's bottom contained unusually high concentrations of methane, they said.
WATCH: Why is the Bermuda Triangle So Mysterious?
But now, researchers have gone even further, suggesting that methane hydrates could be responsible for the disappearances of ships and aircraft under supposedly mysterious circumstances in the Bermuda Triangle, according to The Siberian Times, which cited a report in Science in Siberia, a weekly publication of the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The Bermuda Triangle is a region some people say exists in the North Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda, Florida and Puerto Rico; many others dispute its existence.
But regardless of whether the Bermuda Triangle exists, the idea that methane release could sink ships holds some water, scientists say.
"It is very probable that the similar sinkholes in the ocean were produced [as a result] of decomposing gas hydrates,"said Vladimir Romanovsky, a geophysicist who studies permafrost at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, but who was not involved in the study.
Methane is normally solid under the crushing pressures of the deep sea, but chunks of the icelike substance can break off and form gas bubbles that rise to the surface.
"Gas hydrate is known to exist along the U.S. North Atlantic continental margin, with a very large province on Blake Ridge (north of the Bermuda Triangle)," Benjamin Phrampus, an Earth scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, told Live Science in an email.
In fact, a 2003 study published in the American Journal of Physics found that such bubbles could indeed sink ships, at least in principle. For that study, researchers built a model ship hull and released a large bubble underneath it, filming what happened. If the ship was in the right position above the bubble, the vessel would lose buoyancy and sink, the researchers said.
But even though the phenomenon worked with a model ship, there's no evidence that it ever actually occurred, Phrampus said. In addition, such large-scale methane releases have not been reported in recent history, when the ship and airplane disappearances supposedly took place within the Bermuda Triangle. The last time the ocean floor was venting gas in that area was after the last ice age, about 20,000 years ago, Phrampus said.
"I personally see it as an interesting theory and nothing more," he said.
The U.S. Navy does not believe the Bermuda Triangle exists, and the U.S. Board on Geographic Names does not recognize it as an official name. The insurance market Lloyd's of London determined that no more ships have sunk in that region than in other parts of the ocean, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Original article on Live Science.
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Explosions of trapped methane gas are thought to account for the mysterious craters found in Siberia, including this one.
A second massive crater has appeared in a remote part of Siberia on the Yamal Peninsula, called "the end of the world." The new crater was discovered by reindeer herders about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the first, reports the Moscow Times. Following this discovery, a third hole was found to the east of the other two. It's just 15 meters deep but 60-100 meters deep, locals report.
It's uncertain yet what's caused the sinkholes, but experts said global warming may play a part. Above is a view of the wall inside the first crater.
One theory: when permafrost melts, gas is released, causing an underground explosion.
Experts from the Center for the Study of the Arctic and the Cryosphere Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences have studied the hole, returning with the first photos from the site.
"We can definitely say that it is not a meteorite," a spokesman from Russia's Emergencies Ministry told the Siberian Times.
The area contains some of Russia's most plentiful stores of natural gas. About 10,000 years ago, the area was under the sea, which left salt deposits.
The first hole is about 50 meters wide (164 feet, or about 15 stories) and 70 meters deep (229 feet, about 21 stories), reports the Moscow Times. The second appears similar, but is much smaller. Scientists are concerned that global warming could cause more permafrost melt, which could release methane, a greenhouse gas -- and possibly more enormous Siberian sinkholes.