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Scientists investigate big mystery crater at 'end of the world'

It's tailor-made for crazy conspiracy theories: A big mysterious crater has formed in a part of Siberia known as the "end of the world," reports the Siberian Times.

Video of the 260-foot-wide hole has caused such a stir in the region that a team of Russian scientists was due to arrive today to try to determine its origins and collect soil, air, and water samples—and to debunk some of the wilder theories.

(Think UFO landing site and weapons testing, notes news.com.au.) A government spokesman in the Yamal peninsula asserts that the crater is not the result of a meteor strike, while RT.com lays out a geologic theory: It's possible that warming temperatures caused permafrost to melt and release natural gas in what one researcher likens to a champagne-cork effect.

Indeed, the region is rich in gas, and the crater is only about 20 miles from Russia's vast Bovanenkovo gas field. RT.com notes that the crater is thought to have formed as long as two years ago, but is only now getting attention as footage of it gets picked up.

(Another gift from Siberia's thawing permafrost? An ancient virus.)

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