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YEKATERINBURG, May 18. /TASS/. Russian scientists will carry out complex research this summer to explore a giant hole in permafrost discovered last year on the Yamal peninsula of northwest Siberia, Arctic Exploration Centre head Vladimir Pushkarev said on Monday.
"Several groups of scientists are planning a series of expeditions to the huge Yamal hole," Pushkarev told TASS, adding that the missions would take place in July, August and September.
Most samples taken from the bottom of the hole last year have already been studied. "The version that the hole has a natural origin is currently a priority," Pushkarev said.
The opening, some 60 metres in diametre and at least 200 metres deep, was first spotted by helicopter pilots in July 2014, close to the Bovanenkovo oil field. Explanations of the crater's origin range from meteorites to aliens.
But Academician Valery Melnikov told TASS in November that the hole appeared due to climate change and subsequent release of sub-surface gas trapped in the permafrost.