The Yamal Peninsula (Russian: полуо́стров Яма́л) is located in Yamal-Nenets autonomous district of northwest Siberia. Russia. It extends roughly 700 km (435 mi) and is bordered principally by the Kara Sea, Baydaratskaya Bay on the west, and by the Gulf of Ob on the east. In the language of its indigenous inhabitants, the Nenets, "Yamal" means "End of the Land".
Yamal is inhabited by a multitude of migratory bird species.
The well preserved remains of Lyuba, a 37,000 year old mammoth calf, were found by a reindeer herder on the peninsula in the summer of 2007. The animal was female and was determined to be one month old at the time of death.
According to Sven Haakanson, in the Russian Federation, the Yamal peninsula is the place where traditional large-scale nomadic reindeer husbandry is best preserved. Nenets and Khanty reindeer herders hold about half a million domestic reindeer.
The area is largely undeveloped, but work is going on with three large infrastructure projects – the new 572 km Obskaya–Bovanenkovo railway completed in 2011, a gas pipeline, and several bridges. Yamal holds Russia's (and the world's) biggest natural gas reserves. Russian gas monopolist Gazprom had planned to develop the Yurkharovskoye gas field by 2011–2012. An estimate of the gas reserves here is 55 trillion cubic meters (tcm). Russia's largest energy project in history, known as the Yamal project, puts the future of nomadic reindeer herding at considerable risk.
A spokesperson for the Yamal branch of the Emergencies Ministry said, "We can definitely say that it’s not a meteorite."
The 60-meter (66-yard) crater is believed by a senior researcher from the Scientific Research Center of the Arctic, Andrei Plekhanov, in remarks to the Associated Press, to be likely the result of a "buildup of excessive pressure" underground because of warming regional temperatures in that portion of Siberia. Tests conducted by Plekhanov's team showed unusually high concentrations of methane near the bottom of the sinkhole.
The destabilization of gas hydrates containing huge amounts of methane gas are believed to have caused the craters on the Yamal Peninsula.
Offshore methane leaks
According to researchers at Norway's Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate (CAGE), through a process called geothermal heat flux, the Siberian permafrost, which extends to the seabed of the Kara Sea, a section of the Arctic Ocean between the Yamal Peninsula and Novaya Zemlya, is thawing. According to a CAGE researcher, Aleksei Portnov:
"The permafrost is thawing from two sides... [T]he interior of the Earth is warm and is warming the permafrost from the bottom up. It is called geothermal heat flux and it is happening all the time, regardless of human influence."—CAGE 2014
Methane is leaking in an area of at least 7500 m2. In some areas gas flares extend up to 25 m (82 ft). Prior to their research it was proposed that methane was tightly sealed into the permafrost by water depths up to 100 m (330 ft). Close to the shore however, where the permafrost seal tapers to as little as 20 m (66 ft), there are significant amounts of gas leakage.
- Ice Baby, National Geographic Magazine, May 2009, retrieved 28 December 2014
- Baby mammoth unearthed in Yamal is 37,000 years old - scientists
- NY Times 11 July 2007 Story
- Haakanson, Sven, Reindeer herders, Yamal Culture, Washington: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, retrieved 28 December 2014
- Haakanson, Sven David (2000). Ethnoarchaeology of the Yamal Nenets: Utilizing Emic and Etic Evidence in the Interpretation of Archaeological Residues. Ethnoarchaeology (PhD). Harvard University. pp. 472 pages.
- Yamal peninsula: The world's biggest gas reserves
- Gates, Sara (16 July 2014). "Giant hole forms in Siberia, and nobody can explain why". Huffington Post. Retrieved 28 December 2014.
- Winter, Lisa (16 July 2014). "Huge Crater Mysteriously Appears In Siberia". IFL Science. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
- Luntz, Stephen (2 August 2014). "Scientists May Have Solved The Siberian Crater Mystery". Business Insider. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
- Sojtaric, Maja (18 December 2014), Methane is leaking from permafrost offshore Siberia, Tromsø, Norway: Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate (CAGE), retrieved 28 December 2014
- Ялмал, статья ЭСБЕ (Russian)
- Статья БСЭGreat Soviet Encyclopedia (Russian)
- Yamal Culture (English)
- Yamal Peninsula Nenets (English)