Formation of giant Siberian gas emission craters (GECs)

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Helge Hellevang, Mats Rouven Ippach, Sebastian Westermann, Mohammad Nooraiepour 


The recent discovery of eight giant gas escape craters (GECs) in the Russian Yamal and Gydan peninsulas has challenged researchers for the past decade. Despite numerous proposed models, ranging from meteor impacts to gas explosions, none provide a comprehensive explanation for why the GECs are found only in this specific region. This study proposes a new general model for the formation of GECs in which local permafrost thinning is linked to the local geology, i.e., discrete conductive faults bring natural gas and heat to the base permafrost, deforming and melting the base leading to the development of domal gas and heat traps. Atmospheric warming results in further local thinning and eventually mechanical collapse. The morphology of the GECs initially reflects the concentric deformation above domal base-permafrost structures but are after a short time disguised by water and sediment infill, and over time peatification, and cannot be distinguished from e.g., thermokarst lakes. Thus, the true number of GECs may largely exceed those already discovered.



Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences


Gas Emission Crater (GEC), Permafrost, climate change, Coceptual Model


Published: 2023-12-07 08:37

Last Updated: 2023-12-07 08:37

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