Sep 03, 2014 I Paul Seaburn

What Caused This Crater in a Utah Pond?

A farmer in Circleville, Utah, was draining an irrigation pond recently when a crater suddenly appeared beneath the water’s surface. Looking down, he saw the crater was made from concentric circles, with the algae-covered outer ring having a diameter of 25 feet and the inner ring resembling a small volcanic crater. Circles in Circleville … what could be the cause?

Gary Dalton, farmer and owner of the property, suggested a meteor he’d spotted a few weeks ago. Since no one else saw it or heard any explosions, that theory has been ruled out.

The recent craters in Siberia seem to have been caused by methane bubbles, but Circleville has no coal or natural gas deposits, not even pipelines running under the pond that could be leaking. However, other areas of Utah are hotbeds for fracking. No earthquakes have been reported in the area but both the government and the companies doing the fracking are in denial on the subject despite increases in earthquake activity in states with heavy fracking.

The Utah Geological Survey sent a team of scientists lead by Bill Lund, who was suspended over the crater in a cherry picker for a better look. He eliminated meteors, underground springs, volcanoes, earthquakes and methane bubbles as possible causes and made this observation:

Obviously something came up and created this ring. But then it collapsed back on itself and closed off the vent. Whatever the vent was is closed.

Lund’s theory is a geologic condition called collapsible soils. Up until two years ago, the area was an alfalfa field. It has since been filled and drained over a dozen times. The changing weight of the water could have caused the soil to collapse. According to Lund, here’s what may have happened next.

As it collapsed and compacted, it forced some air and some water up and created this thing. It looks like a one-off thing. It just happened one time. That's it.

soil theory 570x340
How collapsible soils might have caused the Circleville crater.

That sounds plausible … except for one more thing. Lund says he’s never seen this happen under water.

I mean, there are still some unanswered questions here. That's for sure.

Collapsible soil? Meteor? Fracking? Tunnel to Siberia? Or something else …

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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