Yamal Peninsula

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Map showing the location of the Yamal Peninsula.
The satellite map of Yamal Peninsula

Coordinates: 70°40′15″N 70°08′12″E / 70.67088°N 70.13672°E / 70.67088; 70.13672

The Yamal Peninsula (Russian: полуо́стров Яма́л) is located in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug 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. At the northern end of this peninsula lie the Malygina Strait and, beyond it, Bely Island. In the language of its indigenous inhabitants, the Nenets, "Yamal" means "End of the Land".


Reindeer herders on the Yamal Peninsula in 1975

The peninsula consists mostly of permafrost ground and is geologically a very young place —some areas are less than ten thousand years old.[citation needed]

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[1] at the time of death.[2][3]

On 21 October 2016 a Russian Mi-8 helicopter carrying oil and gas workers crashed there, killing at least 19 of the 22 people on board.[4]

Reindeer husbandry[edit]

According to Sven Haakanson, within the Russian Federation, the Yamal peninsula is the place where traditional large-scale nomadic reindeer husbandry is best preserved.[5][6] Nenets and Khanty reindeer herders hold about half a million domestic reindeer.


Russian icebreaker Tor in the ice-covered port of Sabetta
The Obskaya–Bovanenkovo railway was built for the gas fields around Bovanenkovo

The area is largely undeveloped, but work is ongoing with several large infrastructure projects, including a gas pipeline and several bridges.[7] Yamal holds Russia's biggest natural gas reserves.[8] The 572 km Obskaya–Bovanenkovo railway, completed in 2011, is the northernmost railway in the world.[9] Russian gas monopolist Gazprom had planned to develop the Yurkharovskoye gas field by 2011–2012. The peninsula's gas reserves are estimated to be 55 trillion cubic meters (tcm).[7] Russia's largest energy project in history, known as the Yamal project, puts the future of nomadic reindeer herding at considerable risk.[citation needed]

Yamal craters[edit]

In 2014, Yamal was the discovery site of a distinct sinkhole, or pingo, which quickly drew the attention of world media.[10] The sinkhole appeared to be the result of a huge explosion and several hypotheses were suggested to explain the formation of the crater, including a hit by a meteorite or a UFO, or the collapse of an underground gas facility.[11]

A spokesperson for the Yamal branch of the Emergencies Ministry said, "We can definitely say that it’s not a meteorite."[12]

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.[13] Tests conducted by Plekhanov's team showed unusually high concentrations of methane near the bottom of the sinkhole.[14][15]

The destabilization of gas hydrates containing huge amounts of methane gas are believed to have caused the craters on the Yamal Peninsula.[16]

As of 2015, the Yamal peninsula had at least five similar craters.[17]

Another crater appeared in August 2020.[18]

Offshore methane leaks[edit]

According to researchers at Norway's Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate [no] (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:[16]

"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

"The thawing of permafrost on the ocean floor is an ongoing process, likely to be exaggerated by the global warming of the world´s oceans."

— 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 a depth of as little as 20 m (66 ft), there are significant amounts of gas leakage.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ice Baby, National Geographic Magazine, May 2009, retrieved 28 December 2014
  2. ^ "Baby mammoth unearthed in Yamal is 37,000 years old - scientists". En.rian.ru. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  3. ^ "Russia: Mammoth's Corpse Found". The New York Times. 11 July 2007. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  4. ^ "Helicopter crash kills 19 in Siberia". Bbc.com. 22 October 2016. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  5. ^ Haakanson, Sven, Reindeer herders, Yamal Culture, Washington: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, retrieved 28 December 2014
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ a b Harding, Luke (20 October 2009). "Yamal peninsula: The world's biggest gas reserves". Theguardian.com. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  8. ^ "Yamal megaproject". Gazprom.com. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  9. ^ "Obskaya–Bovanenkovo Railroad". Railway Technology. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  10. ^ Gates, Sara (16 July 2014). "Giant hole forms in Siberia, and nobody can explain why". HuffPost. Retrieved 28 December 2014.
  11. ^ Bogoyavlensky, Vasily (October 2015). "Gas Blowouts on the Yamal and Gydan Peninsulas" (PDF). GEO ExPro. Vol. 12 no. 5. GEO Publishing Ltd. pp. 74–78. ISSN 1744-8743. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  12. ^ Winter, Lisa (16 July 2014). "Huge Crater Mysteriously Appears in Siberia". IFL Science. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  13. ^ "News". news.msn.com. Archived from the original on 11 August 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  14. ^ Moskvitch, Katia (2014). "Mysterious Siberian crater attributed to methane". Nature. doi:10.1038/nature.2014.15649. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  15. ^ Luntz, Stephen (2 August 2014). "Scientists May Have Solved The Siberian Crater Mystery". Business Insider. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  16. ^ a b c Sojtaric, Maja (18 December 2014), Methane is leaking from permafrost offshore Siberia, Tromsø, Norway: Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate (CAGE), archived from the original on 28 December 2014, retrieved 28 December 2014
  17. ^ Winter, Lisa (26 February 2015). "There are more bizarre craters opening up in Siberia, and scientists still don't know what's causing them". businessinsider.com. Retrieved 27 July 2016. We know now of seven craters in the Arctic area. Five are directly on the Yamal peninsula, one in Yamal Autonomous district, and one is on the north of the Krasnoyarsk region, near the Taimyr peninsula,...
  18. ^ https://siberiantimes.com/other/others/news/giant-new-50-metre-deep-crater-opens-up-in-arctic-tundra/

External links[edit]