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Mystery of the Patomsky crater
Mystery of the Patomsky crater

Russia on its territory is simply replete with various unique places and natural wonders. Some of them are included in the list of the most famous secret and unidentified mysteries in the world. One of these mysteries is a unique geological formation in the form of a cone-shaped crater on the territory of the Irkutsk region, called by the local “Nest of the Fire Eagle”.

What is this object, the mystery of the origin of which has haunted both Russian and foreign researchers and scientists for more than 70 years.

The beginning of the development of the eastern Siberian lands

The development of the lands, which are now the eastern borders of the Irkutsk region, began by the Russians in the middle of the 19th century. In the documents of that time, it is noted that until 1847 the territory of the present Bodaibo region (this is where the mysterious object is located) was very poorly populated. And even then it was mainly local nomadic hunters who came to these places seasonally.

Nomads of Siberia

Many objects on the first maps of this area were designated by their names translated from the Yakut language. Therefore, hardly anyone of the then researchers was surprised that one of the very full-flowing streams flowing in this area bore a name that in Yakut sounded like “Flight of a fiery eagle”. However, they took a completely new look at this name a little over 100 years later - after an expedition led by scientist Vadim Kolpakov, who explored the area in 1949.

How the mysterious cone-shaped crater was discovered

In the spring of 1949, the research group, led by V. Kolpakov, was engaged in quite its usual work - drawing up a geological map of the territory that now belongs to the lands of the Bodaibo District of the Irkutsk Region. On the slope of one of the hills, scientists have discovered a very amazing archaeological formation. It was a stone embankment in the shape of an ellipse. It was, as it were, elongated at a distance of 180 to 220 meters along the slope of the mountain.

Dimensions and structure of the Patom crater

The height of the inner annular bulk embankment, the diameter of which was 76 meters, ranged from 4 to almost 40 meters. Inside this ring of crushed limestone there is a 12-meter high stone slide made of the same material. According to the approximate calculations of scientists from subsequent expeditions, the total weight of the limestone rock of which the formation consists is about 1 million tons.

The total weight of stones on the Patomsky crater is about a million tons

The expedition of Vadim Kolpakov, which was the first to discover and describe the amazing geological formation, gave it its name after the Vitimo-Patom Upland. This is how the Patomsky crater appeared on the maps, which in scientific circles received another rather widespread name - “Kolpakov's cone”.

Meteorite has nothing to do with it?

Despite its classification name - a crater, “Kolpakov's cone” does not look like the usual traces of impacts of meteorites or asteroids that are found on all continents of the Earth. In its shape and structure, the Patomsky crater resembles some craters on the Moon and Mars. However, their origin there is a mystery to modern astronomers and geologists. The point is that during the “usual” fall of an asteroid or meteorite (if it did not explode above the surface, but collided with it), a standard impact crater is obtained - a funnel of almost regular round or slightly elliptical shape.

Impact craters on Earth and the Moon are very similar

Impact meteorite craters do not have any “internal elements”, such as ring rolls or hills in the center of the funnel.In addition to everything, researchers who have studied samples of crushed limestone stones that make up the "Kolpakov cone" note that there are no traces of rock melting under the influence of high temperatures. This is exactly what is observed in all impact craters on the planet. So Patomsky crater is not a crater at all? Then what kind of object is this: when, and most importantly, how did it appear in the Siberian taiga?

Theories of the origin of the "Kolpakov cone"

In the scientific world, there are several theories of the appearance of the "Kolpakov cone" on the Vitim-Patom Upland. Some researchers consider the Patomsky crater to be a man-made formation. In favor of their theory, they point to a certain similarity between it and the usual mine waste heaps - mountains of waste or associated rocks. However, where could almost a million tons of crushed limestone come from in the taiga, if no workings were found nearby. Consequently, most scientists consider this theory to be completely untenable.

Crushed limestone cone in the center of Patomsky crater

The Yakut hunters have known this area since ancient times under the name “The Nest of the Fiery Eagle”. From the legends one can understand that once a certain “fiery bird” flew to this place from heaven. Which left such a mark after itself. Therefore, most scientists are inclined to the extraterrestrial origin of the "Kolpakov cone". Although not all researchers agree that Patomsky crater is a consequence of a meteorite or asteroid falling to the ground.

Supporters of the “meteorite theory” (by the way, Kolpakov himself was the first to put forward it) believe that such a crater could have formed after an underground explosion of a falling meteorite. That is, a celestial body at a relatively low speed (which was extinguished by the friction of a cosmic stone in the Earth's atmosphere) crashed into the planet's surface. The rather soft rock allowed the meteorite to easily enter it for several tens of meters.

Patomsky crater

And only after that, the red-hot stone, having reached an underground reservoir with natural or shale gas (which, according to the supporters of this theory, was in this place), exploded. So this explosion became the culprit for the formation of an unusual cone inside the crater, throwing tons of deep rock onto the surface.

The adherents of this theory even point out that the Patomsky crater could have been left by a fragment of the world famous Tunguska meteorite. After all, the cone was formed relatively recently - its territory has not yet been swallowed up by the Siberian taiga. However, some facts indicate that the culprit for the formation of the "Kolpakov cone" could be a cosmic, but far from natural object.

The latest scientific theory

Recent expeditions to the Patomsky crater failed to fully reveal the secret of its origin. But as a result of one of them, a new theory about the volcanic nature of the “Kolpakov cone” was born. According to scientists, the crater may be the result of geophysical processes in the depths of the Earth. Some experts believe that a full-fledged volcano may grow on the site of the Patomsky crater in a few decades.

"Nest of the Fire Eagle" - Patomsky Crater

There is also a hypothesis that the “Kolpakov cone” may be associated with the remains of the giant Siberian volcanic caldera, the eruption of which in the Permian period caused the largest animal extinction in the history of the Earth.

One way or another, the secret of the Patomsky crater has not yet been revealed. And we can only guess what kind of “fiery eagle” this place is on the slope of a hill among the endless expanses of the ancient Siberian taiga.

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