Should a crop circle be described as such if there are no crops and it’s not really a circle? That’s the first question to ask about a new report from Russia of a mysterious large design that seemingly appeared overnight on the icy surface of Lake Sinara. Are crop circle makers looking for something to do to stay in shape during the off-season?

There’s not much information on the so-called ‘crop circle on ice’ other than the date it allegedly was discovered - November 8, 2016 – and the location – Lake Sinara near the city of Snezhinsk, Russia. The video was taken by an unnamed person from an unnamed shore location and is exclusively a ground level view, even though the house has a second floor that would have given a slightly more elevated look at the formation. The section of the shape shown makes it look like a giant gear that might stretch around the lake, but the video ends without the witness moving from that one spot.

Is this a “Message to aliens on the ice” as the uploader suggests? That’s tough to determine when you can’t see the whole thing. What would it be warning about? Well, Snezhinsk is in the Ural Mountains in southwestern Russia on the border with Kazakhstan and is classified as a “closed” town, meaning that specific authorization is required to visit there. This could be due to the top-secret nuclear weapons research that has been conducted there since the nuclear age began in the 1940s. In 1957, a serious accident at a nearby nuclear fuel reprocessing plant caused fatalities and forced evacuations. The area was closed to all foreigners until 1992 and is still considered to be “closed.”

Was this crop circle made on ice by design or necessity? It’s early winter in Russia and the fields probably aren’t in any shape for circle-making. Giant ice rings are actually a common but still mysterious occurrence in Russia. They’ve been seen numerous times since the 1990s in satellite images of Lake Baikal, where any unusual occurrence is blamed on aliens first – ask questions later.

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Ice ring on Lake Baikal

Scientists looking for a non-alien cause have blamed them on methane emissions from round craters on the bottom of the lake rising to warm the surface ice. However, analysis of the latest one in November 2016 prompted a new theory - anticyclonic vortices under the ice that arise from peculiarities in the lake’s water circulation, underwater topography and coastline that thin the ice, causing the melted circles. What causes the ‘peculiarities’? Take your pick – after all, it’s Lake Bakail.

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Ice ring on a lake in Sweden in 1987

Ice rings have been reported in other frozen locations like Sweden, but they’re generally just circles and none seem to resemble the intricate design seen in crop circles. Which takes us back to the alleged formation on Lake Sinara. Is it a human-created design for an ice festival as some suggest? Is it an alien warning as the uploader implies? Is it a human-generated warning related to the top-secret nuclear weapons program?

Until an aerial view is taken (hopefully before it melts or a hockey game breaks out), this ‘crop circle in the ice’ on Lake Sinara will be rated as "not circular, not crop-ish, not explained, not ready for alien blaming."

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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