Deep 'Sinkholes' Found Deep Beneath Arctic Ocean, Scientists Speculate About What Caused Them
© AP Photo / David Goldman / Sea ice melts on the Franklin Strait along the Northwest Passage in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Saturday, July 22, 2017. Because of climate change, more sea ice is being lost each summer than is being replenished in winters. Less sea ice coverage also means that less sunlight will be reflected off the surface of the ocean in a process known as the albedo effect. The oceans will absorb more heat, further fueling global warming
© AP Photo / David Goldman /
The discovery was made by a team of researchers who surveyed the seafloor of the Beaufort Sea between 2010 and 2019 using advanced mapping tech.
Sizeable craters, some of them reaching 90 feet in depth, have emerged beneath the waves of the Arctic Ocean.
Scientists suggest that these craters are the product of submerged permafrost on the edge of the Beaufort Sea thawing, and that the change is being caused by “retreating glaciers from the last ice age” rather than by climate change, according to Newsweek.
This development came to light after a team of researchers led by Charles K. Paull, a senior scientist at California's Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, employed advanced mapping tech to perform surveys of the Beaufort Sea seafloor between 2010 and 2019, trying to gauge changes produced by the thawing permafrost.
Their findings show the emergence of large depressions with steep sides at depths between 400 and 500 feet.
2 October 2021, 11:40 GMT
While the media outlet notes that organic matter decomposing within the thawing permafrost may cause ground to literally explode due to pressure caused by the release of methane and other greenhouse gasses, Paull said his team does not think the craters they observed were formed due to such processes.
"The evidence suggests that the submarine features we observed forming are essentially sink-holes and retreating scarps, collapsing into void space left behind by the thawing of ice-rich permafrost," he explained.
The scientist also said that he and his colleagues were shocked by their discovery, and that the craters turned out to be larger than they expected.