Image of the Week: Batagaika Crater and the Megaslump

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Detailed Description

Warm summers and short winters are thawing permafrost in the Siberian tundra, causing soil erosion. As a result, the 800 meter wide Batagaika crater continues to expand.

At the USGS EROS Center, we study land change, operate the Landsat satellites, and maintain the longest, continuously acquired collection of images of the Earth's land surface.
Hyperlink: USGS EROS Center (


Image Dimensions: 480 x 360

Date Taken:

Length: 00:01:06

Location Taken: SA, RU


Over the past few decades,
warm summers and short winters

have caused permafrost in the
Siberian tundra to thaw,

causing warmed soil to
slump and erode.

The Batagaika Crater,
in these images starts as a

narrow channel in 1991 and
grows to an 800 meter wide

crater by 2017.  Sentinel-2A’s
10-meter image provides a

detailed look at the crater.

This “megaslump” is enlarging
more than 10 meters each year

as soil erodes down to the
floodplain of the Batagay River.

This exposes more soil,
which thaws and erodes,

speeding up the cycle.

Now the 86 meter deep crater
is exposing ancient soil that

shows scientists a record of
environmental changes spanning

back 50,000 years.

The Landsat and Sentinel
missions will help track the

changes to the crater as
scientists study the permafrost

and the environmental
history now exposed.