Scientists are baffled by a mysterious 80-metre wide crater that has appeared in northern Siberia.
The giant crater revealed a massive sinkhole in the Yamal Peninsula, northern Russia, which is an area known for being rich in natural gas.
According to The Siberian Times, the hole was spotted by helicopters and a scientific team was sent to the scene on Wednesday to investigate.
A Yamal Emergencies Ministry spokesman said: "We can definitely say that it is not a meteorite. No details yet."
Anna Kurchatova from the Sub-Arctic Scientific Research Centre believes it was formed by a water, salt and gas mixture igniting an underground explosion, and was the result of global warming.
Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that an Australian polar scientist believes it is probably a melted ice formation.
Dr Chris Fogwill said: "Certainly from the images I've seen it looks like a periglacial feature, perhaps a collapsed pingo."
A pingo is a block of ice grown into a small hill in the frozen arctic ground. It can push through the earth and when it melts it leaves a crater.
Yamal is a remote part of Russia, which translates as 'the end of the world'.
World's weirdest travel destinations
Mysterious giant hole appears in Siberia's 'End of the World' (video)
These weird yet wonderful rocks on the West Coast of New Zealand began forming 30 million years ago and today appear like huge stacks of pancakes after thousands of years of earthquake activity and the rain and wind erosion. The Pancake Rocks and Blowholes are especially spectacular at high tide when the ocean swells rush through the vertical shafts creating impressive hissing and heaving sounds, and geyser-like plumes of salt water are emitted.
The Plain of Jars is a site of 300 stone vessels that sit on a hill overlooking Phonsavanh town in Laos. The jars are believed to be over 2,000 years old and their purpose still remains a mystery. Some people believe they were great funeral urns, while others believe they were used to make lao-lao, the potent rice wine of Laos. Their archaeological study became more difficult following the American war in Indochina, when the area was heavily bombed and saw many of the jars broken and blasted from their original locations.
Located above the north-western side of one of the world's driest places, Death Valley in California, Racetrack Playa is one of the world's most mysterious places. The site is home to sailing stones - big and small rocks that glide across the mirror-flat landscape, leaving behind a tangle of trails. They have never been seen or filmed in motion, although they are said to be moved by strong winter winds that reach 90mph. The tracks left by the rocks are clearly visible and some suddenly change directions and move at almost perfect right angles, adding to the mystique of Death Valley.
The Giant's Causeway has inspired artists and captured the imaginations of all who see it for centuries. This unusual site, famed for its polygonal columns of layered basalt, resulted from a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago. Three periods of volcanic activity gave rise to the Lower, Middle and Upper Basalts, and the Middle Basalt rock which forms the famous amphitheatres of hexagonal columns. According to legend, the causeway is the remains of a bridge that Irish giant Finn McCool built linking Ireland to Scotland.
The Hells of Beppu is a series of stunning hot springs that are mainly for viewing, rather than bathing. Located on the island of Kyushu, Japan, the multi-coloured pits of boiling water and mud are popular in Japan, but little-known outside the country. Seven of the strange geothermal springs are named Sea Hell, Shaven Monk's Head Hell, Mountain Hell, Boiling Hell, Demon Mountain Hell and White Pond Hell, and there are two more springs, Blood Pond Hell and Geyser Hell, about two kilometres away.
We love the name of the incredible hills of Bohol, which are covered in green grass and turn chocolate brown during the dry season. There are said to be at least 1,260 Chocolate Hills, which many say look like mole hills or women's breasts. The hills are between 30 and 50 metres high and legend says they were made by two giants who threw stones and sand at each other and fought for days. When they were finally exhausted, they became friends and left the island, leaving behind the mess they made!
This may look like ice but what you see is in fact the hot springs of Pamukkale in Turkey. The terraces, pools and stalactites of the city were created by the warm mineral water, which cools as it cascades over the cliff edge. You won't find anything else like this strange landscape in Turkey, which is a popular spot for visitors seeking a unique place to bathe and relax. Pamukkale means "Cotton Castle", which just adds more magic to the fairytale site.
The Moeraki Boulders are alien-like boulders mainly located on Koekohe Beach on New Zealand's South Island. The ancient rock formations are believed to date back more than 60 million years and some weigh several tonnes. They were originally formed on the sea floor in the same way that a pearl forms around a particle of sand. Mauri legend says the boulders are remains of eel baskets, while locals call them "giants' gobstoppers".
Shaped like a tall breaking ocean wave, incredible rock formation Wave Rock in Western Australia is the result of hundreds of millions of years of erosion. The stripes are caused by leaking minerals in the rock and the "wave" stands 14 metres high and 110 metres long. Over 2,700 million years in the making, today it is popular with visitors posing on the rock face and surfing the giant wave.
The world's deepest known blue hole is Dean's Blue Hole on Long Island in the Bahamas. The blue hole is 663 feet deep and at about 75 feet deep it begins to widen to about 240 feet. Dean's Blue Hole happens to be gorgeous too, with waterfalls of sand that cascade dramatically down the sides. The blue hole is popular with divers and snorkelers, and children and non-swimmers are advised to stay well away as the drop-off from the sandy beach into Dean's is sudden.
Rotorua is home to the world's most lively fields of geothermal activity. The city and surrounding areas have a bizarre range of weird ecosystems - volcanoes, hot springs, mud pools, geysers, forests and lakes. South of the city lies Wai-O-Tapu, a thermal wonderland, where you'll pass bubbling mud, sulphur waterfalls, neon orange lakes and steaming vents.
Rio Tinto, or Red River as it translates, is a river in Andalucía famed for its coloured water. The unusual river is one of the places on Earth that most closely resembles the surface of Mars. The site along the river is full of copper, silver, gold, iron and has been heavily mined since ancient times. The river's water is dense due to the metals it carries and it has low oxygen content.
The highest table mountain on the triple border of Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana is Mount Roraima, which stands 2,800 metres tall. The strangest thing about the mountain is the shape, with its swerving edge of 400-metre high cliffs on all sides. It rains almost every day at Mount Roraima and the top appears black due to added moss and fungi over millions of years. The only way to climb to the top is from the Gran Sabana side in Venezuela.
It may look like a scene from a sci-fi movie, but this giant hole of fire in the middle of the Karakum Desert was made by geologists in 1971 who were drilling at the site and tapped into a cavern filled with natural gas. 40 years later, the hole with a diameter of 70 metres is still burning and is known to locals as 'The Door to Hell'. Its golden glow can be seen for miles and attracts curious travellers from all around.
China's Red Beach is aptly named after its appearance, caused by a type of sea weed that flourishes in the saline-alkali soil. The weed at the beach in the Liaohe River Delta is green during the summer but turns flaming red in the autumn creating an infinite red carpet that is mostly a nature reserve and closed to the public, apart from a small section open to tourists.
26 strange and otherworldly places to see before you die
Mysterious giant hole appears in Siberia's 'End of the World' (video)
With its rolling hills, rocky peaks and multitude of colours, this otherworldly site looks like no place on Earth. The spectacular lunar landscape can be found at the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park in Gansu Province, China. Like one giant red, orange and yellow-hued paint spattered artwork, the park offers breathtaking views that blaze with colour. The unusual colouration in the rocks is the result of red sandstone and mineral deposits being laid down over 24 million years.
Ukraine's leafy Tunnel of Love, near the town of Klevan, is a three-kilometre section of private railway that serves a nearby fibreboard factory. A train runs daily through the ethereal tunnel delivering wood to the factory. At other times the beautiful avenue of trees is witness to a very different journey - love. It is a favoured spot for young romantics to stroll with their special someone. The magic happens in spring when the trees that line the rails burst into life and create a leafy enclosed arch over the track. It is said that couples can come here to make a wish and if they are sincere in their love it will come true.
The Whitsundays' Whitehaven Beach is a pristine beach stretching seven kilometres, gently lapped by rippling waves of turquoise and aquamarine. The sand at the Australian beach is so pure and white that it is 89 per cent silica, and is believed to have been brought to the beach from sea currents over millions of years.
This giant hole in the Karakum Desert has been burning for over 40 years. Named by locals as 'The Door to Hell,' the crater in Turkmenistan was created by Soviet geologists in 1971 who were drilling at the site and tapped into a cavern filled with natural gas. The ground underneath the rig collapsed and left a hole with a diameter of 70 metres. The team was afraid the hole would release poisonous gases and decided to burn it off. They hoped it would be put out after a few days but the hole has been burning ever since. Its golden glow can be seen for miles.
Historic park Keukenhof is the world's largest flower garden, with more than seven million flower bulbs planted every year. In spring, you can see the spectacular collection of tulips take over the park with their bright colours of pink, orange, purple, yellow and orange. The unique park in Holland also has carpets of hyacinths, daffodils, orchids, roses, carnations, irises and lilies, making it appear as something out of The Wizard of Oz when they are in full bloom.
This salt lake in South Australia is surrounded by brilliant red sand hills and the shimmering surface is a photographer's dream. When standing in the centre of the surreal Lake Gairdner, the horizon seems to disappear. The site hosts the annual Dry Lake Racers event in March.
The To Sua Ocean Trench (which literally means 'big hole with water') is an idyllic site located in Samoa's Lotofaga village. The trench is surrounded by beautiful manicured gardens with views out across the Pacific Ocean. A ladder is installed allowing visitors to descend 15 metres down into the trench filled with turquoise waters and lit up by the bright Samoa sunshine. The gurgling sounds of the water can be heard through the underwater caves linking the trench to the ocean.
The Arashiyama Bamboo Forest in Kyoto is a 500-metre pathway through the Sagano Bamboo Forest. It is one of Japan's most picturesque natural environments and is known for the sound that is made when the wind blows through the thick bamboo grove. The music was even voted one of Japan's must-preserve sounds.
Western Australia's Lake Hillier is a bubble gum pink-coloured lake that is surrounded by a rim of sand and dense woodland. It is a complete mystery to scientists, who have never been able to identify why the is pink. Some say the colour comes from a dye created by bacteria living in the salt crusts. The lake is best viewed from the sky, but there is also the Pink Lake lookout, which offers stunning views of the 600-metre-long lake.
The uninhabited island of Staffa is home to Fingal's Cave, Scotland, which is formed entirely of hexagonally jointed basalt columns - the same as the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. A walkway made of fractured columns allows visitors to go far inside and during spring and early summer the cliffs and grassy slopes provide nesting sites for various seabirds including guillemots, razorbills and puffins.
This spectacular blue cave or grotto can be found on the remote limestone island of Bisevo in Croatia. The Blue Cave is at its most beautiful between 11am and noon when the sun’s rays pass through an underwater opening to create a beautiful blue light. Boats can be taken inside the cave, but for a surreal experience you should take an underwater swim to see the rocks glimmer in silver and pink.
Visit Mount Teide in Tenerife to see the strange phenomenon known as the Sea of Clouds from Spain's highest peak. This happens when the moist trade winds (sea level) condense as they rise over the steep northerly slope of the island and meet drier, warmer winds coming from the Azores at a higher altitude. The result is an extraordinary thick 'blanket' of white clouds at the foot of Mount Teide. Visitors to the Mount Teide National Park, at an altitude of more than 1,700m above the sea of clouds, can enjoy the volcanic landscapes with perfect blue skies and the weird experience of being above the clouds.
The surreal landscape of Cappadocia is characterised by subterranean cities, cave houses, fairy chimneys and winding valleys, and is one of the most enchanting places on the planet. The otherworldly landscape is best enjoyed from the sky on a hot air balloon ride, where you can see the extraordinary rock formations, vineyards and villages of the historical region in Turkey.
The breathtaking Crystal Cave of Svmnafellsjvkull in Iceland's Skaftafell National Park is a glistening wonder with its brilliant indigo and aquamarine hues, and unique snap, crackle and pop sounds. Created by the Vatnajvkull ice cap in the south of Iceland, the cave is accessible through a 22ft entrance on the shoreline and is a tight squeeze towards the end where it is no more than four feet high.
The Alofaaga Blowholes in the village of Taga on the Samoan island of Savaii are a sight to behold. Carved over centuries, the blow holes are formed by the sea water being forced up through tiny cracks in the volcanic rock as it meets the ocean and show wave power in its purest form. At their most forceful they can propel huge jets of water 20 metres in the air and are particularly worth watching when locals throw in coconuts watching the jets effortlessly demolish the heavy shells with the sheer force.
Madagascar's Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park is famed for its labyrinth of limestone pinnacles, known as tsingy. Formed over centuries by the movement of wind and water, the jagged needles tower several hundred metres into the air and are a spectacular sight. There are walkways and bridges to help visitors climb on top of the smaller tsingy.
The Cano Cristales is a river in Colombia which displays a vibrant explosion of colours for a short time each year. It happens when the water level drops and the sun warms the moss and algae at the bottom of the river, making the blooms turn bright red. The amazing transformation can be viewed for a few weeks from September to November.
Image: Flickr/megavas. Used under Creative Commons license.
Every year for a few weeks in February, Yosemite National Park's Horsetail Fall appears to turn into flowing lava in an extraordinary natural display. As the light hits the top of the rock face a miraculous transformation takes place. Suddenly the rock glows a breathtaking orange and red, appearing more like a volcano than a waterfall. The incredible phenomenon occurs only in February at Horsetail Fall, a seasonal waterfall which is part of the El Capitan rock formation.
The Gothic-style Kromlauer Park in Germany is home to the ancient Devil's Bridge, which is said to have been built around 1860. A unique feature of the bridge is its reflection on the water's surface creating a perfect circle.
Brazil's Lencois Maranhenses National Park is an ecosystem formed of sand dunes, known as white sheets (lencois) and freshwater lakes of changing colours. The seasonal lagoons fill with rainwater, mainly during the first six months of the year, creating a unique landscape. The National Park was formed over thousands of years and is actually a desert. It is home to a variety of fish, despite the almost complete disappearance of water during the dry season.
Its stunning mountain scenery inspired the film Avatar and the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is one of China's most breathtaking spots, with its floating pillar-like formations and dense foliage. One of its towers, the 3,544ft Southern Sky Column, was even renamed the Avatar Hallelujah Mountain following the movie's success.
Fly Geyser is a man-made geothermal geyser reaching around five feet high in Washoe County, Nevada. It sits on a seven-foot mound and was created accidentally when drilling took place at the point in an attempt to find sources of geothermal energy in 1964. Although people are not entirely sure why it occurred, it was most likely due to the well being left unplugged, leading to the accumulation of dissolved minerals which rose to the surface and created the mound on which the geyser sits. Plumes of hot water continuously spew up to five feet in the air, which fills the numerous surrounding terraces of pools with water. It is the brilliant green and red colouring caused by thermophilic algae which makes the geyser so remarkable.
Dark Hedges is a beautiful avenue of beech trees dating back to the 18th century. The eerie avenue, in Northern Ireland, is said to be haunted by the 'Grey Lady' who appears at dusk among the trees and silently glides along the roadside.
At Conrad Maldives Rangali Island in the Maldives, guests can witness the phenomenal natural wonder that is bio-luminescent phytoplankton making the beaches glow blue at night. The bioluminescent blue glow is created by millions of phytoplanktons, more specifically the dinoflagellates, in the ocean. These contain luciferase, a chemical that glows in the dark when agitated - for example when a wave breaks on a beach. The blue glowing beaches are seen particularly on moonless nights. Guests at the resort can simply walk along the beach or go on night dives to swim through the glowing 'ocean of stars'.
One of the world's most amazing cave networks is the enchanting underworld Marble Caves in Chilean Patagonia's General Carrera Lake. Visitors who make the journey to the remote caves are treated to a unique light show caused by the reflection of the azure water on the marble walls. The incredible blue hues make the caves appear as something from another planet.
This mystery rock formation in the Abel Tasman National Park in New Zealand's South Island is in the shape of an apple which has been cut in half. Split Apple Rock sits in shallow water at low tide and according to geologists, the rock split in the Ice Ages when water seeped into a crack.