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13th May, 2024 Geography

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Picture Courtesy: https://www.wionews.com/science/gateway-to-the-underworld-in-siberia-is-growing-at-a-staggering-rate-every-year-719019

Context: The "gateway to the underworld" in Siberia (Russia) officially known as Batagay (or Batagaika), is an enormous crater that has been rapidly growing due to the effects of permafrost thaw.

Permafrost thaw is the melting of permanently frozen ground, mainly in polar and high-mountain regions. Permafrost is ground that stays frozen for at least two years in a row. It includes soil, rock, and organic matter like dead plants and animals.

About Batagay Crater

  • The Batagay Crater, also known as the "gateway to the underworld," is located in Russia's Far East.
  • It is expanding at an alarming rate, widening by about 660 feet between 2014 and 2023. This equates to approximately 35 million cubic feet of material being lost each year due to melting.
  • The growth of the crater is mainly due to permafrost thawing, a consequence of rising temperatures in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. This thawing exposes ancient layers of permafrost that have remained frozen for hundreds of thousands of years.
  • Despite variations in climate and environmental conditions, the rate of melting at Batagay has remained relatively consistent over the past decade. Most of the melting occurs along specific edges of the crater, contributing to its expansion.
  • The ongoing expansion highlights the urgent need for understanding and mitigating the impacts of climate change in vulnerable regions. Rapid permafrost thaw can lead to land subsidence, changes in hydrology, and the release of greenhouse gases previously trapped in the frozen ground.


  • A crater is a geological feature that can form on planetary surfaces due to various processes, including impacts, volcanic activity, explosions, or subsidence.
  • Crater formation provides valuable insights into the history and geological activity of celestial bodies, including Earth and other planets in our Solar System.

Impact Crater

  • An impact crater is a depression in the surface of a planet, moon, or other solid body in the Solar System, formed by the high-velocity impact of a smaller body (such as a meteoroid or asteroid).
  • Impact craters typically have raised rims and lower floors compared to the surrounding terrain. They vary in size from microscopic craters to large multi-ringed basins.
  • Examples: Meteor Crater (Arizona, USA), lunar craters on the Moon.

Volcanic Crater

  • A volcanic crater is a bowl-shaped depression above a volcano's vent, formed by volcanic activity.
  • During volcanic eruptions, magma and volcanic gases rise to the surface through a conduit, causing the crater to form above the vent.
  • Calderas are larger volcanic craters formed by the collapse of a volcano's magma chamber.
  • Examples: Mount St. Helens (Washington, USA), Mauna Loa (Hawaii, USA).

Explosion Crater

  • An explosion crater is created by an explosive event near or below the surface of the ground.
  • High-pressure gas and shock waves displace and eject material, forming a bowl-shaped depression.
  • Crater formation involves plastic deformation, ejection of material (ejecta), spallation of the ground surface, and subsequent crater filling.
  • Examples: Craters from underground nuclear explosions, and mining explosions.

Subsidence Crater

  • A subsidence crater is formed by the collapse of the surface above an underground (usually nuclear) explosion.
  • The roof of the explosion cavity collapses, causing the surface to depress into a sink or crater.
  • Examples: Craters created at nuclear test sites, such as the Nevada Test Site.

Must Read Articles:







The "Batagay mega slump cliff" has made headlines and is famously regarded as the "gateway to the underworld". Where is the Batagay Mega Slump Cliff located?

A) Russia

B) Canada

C) Greenland

D) Norway

Answer: A