The last place most people in the world want to live is Siberia. After the events of this month, the last place most Siberians want to live is Novokuznetsk. In a span of just a couple of weeks, the town was hit by a massive slow-moving earthflow of rocks and then woke up to one of those mysterious Siberian craters. What’s happening in Novokuznetsk?
The huge landslide of boulders and dirt occurred on April 1, 2015, (no April Fool joke here – we have video!) at 1 pm local time on what was the main road between Novokuznetsk and Bolshaya east of the Ural Mountains. “Was” because the wall of rock tore apart and covered the road, a railway, trees and power lines. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
According to geologists, the earthflow was most likely man-made. Novokuznetsk is a coal mining area and it appears that a mound of waste material or overburden from the Taldinskoye coal mine collapsed and rolled slowly downhill over everything in its path. Melting snow and ice may have weakened the mound and lubricated the earthflow.
No sooner had the Novokuznetskians dug out from under the earthflow than a mysterious crater appeared in the town. While Novokuznetsk is 3500 km (2175 miles) from the mysterious craters in northern Siberia, big holes in the ground there are always a cause for concern. This one is 20 meters (12.5 feet) in diameter and 30 meters (18.7 feet) deep. While some residents blamed the crater on abandoned coal mines, neither the Emergencies Ministry nor the regional government would comment on a possible cause. However, they warned residents to avoid making fires near the large crater and a smaller one that appeared nearby in case of methane gas.
Is Siberia collapsing under its own weight due to mining and climate change? Is something underneath it trying to push its way out? It’s understandable – above or below ground, it’s still in Siberia!