And you thought they were only in space. Well, better brush up on some “Doomsday Preppers,” because black holes have spread to the Earth’s surface, and they are increasing in number.

All jokes aside, one of the most recent phenomena in Earth’s geology is the formation of massive craters in the mountainous region of the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia. Much to the fright of Russian residents in the area, the name “Yamal” means “the end of the world,” and researchers are worried that continuously forming craters may further endanger residents and livestock currently in Siberia.

Back in July 2014, news broke worldwide that a 262-foot wide crater “opened up” in this region of Siberia. Subsequently, a couple more broke the surface. Since then, up to 30 craters, both massive and small, are believed to be peppering northwestern Russia. Scientist Vasily Bogoyavlensky, deputy director of the Moscow-based Oil and Gas Research Institute, said only four craters have been located exactly. News of others comes from residents and “reindeer herders,” Bogoyavlensky told The Siberian Times. He elaborates that many small craters seem to be found once the large holes are identified.

Black holes aren't just for space anymore. They're starting to appear on Earth, and scientists believe it's due to climate change. PHOTO VIA FLICKR USER ROXANNE READY

Black holes aren’t just for space anymore. They’re starting to appear on Earth, and scientists believe it’s due to climate change. PHOTO VIA FLICKR USER ROXANNE READY

YouTube video footage showing helicopter views of these holes can be seen, revealing their truly gigantic proportions and abnormality from the Siberian terrain. The holes at the very top look like craters commonly associated with meteorites, or even look like those craters on the Moon. They have slightly raised peripheries with a bowl-like shape, but quickly drop off deep into the ground. Their ominous depth won them the name “black holes of Siberia.” Indeed, immediate resident responses were comprised of beliefs that the holes were formed by meteorite impacts. Others believed that the craters were evidence of UFO landings. But the increase in numbers of these mysterious holes leads scientists to believe that there is a greater geological phenomenon happening and that it could endanger anyone or anything living near these regions of Siberia.

Russian researchers have been urged to determine the causes of these phenomena to protect residents in the event that the holes begin to spread to more southern regions of Russia. The general consensus of the Siberian research effort is that these holes may actually be an effect of climate change, The Huffington Post reported. According to this theory, methane gas trapped far beneath the surface of the Earth may have exploded due to global warming, causing the major collapses that resulted in massive holes in the crust of the Earth. In addition, some residents living near one of the craters have reported seeing a flash of light, further circumstantial evidence for an explosion of some kind.

Research geophysicist Carolyn Ruppel, although not a part of Siberian research team, suggested to HuffPost that the observance of many craters is not surprising, as “The processes that are causing them to form likely occur over a wide area of the continuous permafrost in this part of Siberia.”

Permafrost is soil, rock or sediment layer that is frozen for over two consecutive years, generally beneath an “active layer,” which freezes and thaws according to seasons. Thus, in correlation with these two theories, perhaps the holes are only a product of the particular conditions of the permafrost region and will not necessarily spread to other areas of the continent.

That is, unless global temperatures reach high enough. According to Russian scientists and the theory of Ruppel, the permafrost layer is warming up so much that methane bubbles underneath or stratified throughout the layers are affected, and this region is isolated because of these conditions. However, if global temperatures were to increase so significantly that more temperate regions of the continent were affected, the black holes of Siberia may become epidemic.

Another possibility causing the heating of gas bubbles under the surface of the Earth lies in the shifting of tectonic plates. DailyMail UK’s coverage of the investigation includes that the Yamal region straddles two fault lines. These rifts in the surface generate a great deal of heat and may be setting off the gas explosions, which then result in the enormous holes.

As investigations continue, some heat source seems to be a likely culprit for the appearance of the “black holes of Siberia.” The result? Some highly astounding, frankly out-of-this-world and extraordinary images of geological structures unlike anything we see in our daily lives.