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Monday, 17 February 2014

Pingos not so rare and not so mysterious was Strange (Landform) in Siberia

Pingos not so rare and not so mysterious was Strange (Landform) in Siberia

In “Pingos not so rare and not so mysterious was
Strange (Landform) in Siberia” at
Eman wrote:

“This file shows the basalt and tuff surface geology of
the Siberian Trapps--again covering the Irkustsk Region:
Note the extensive lobes of lava flow on the Irkustsk
southern border.”

The above inferences that are made above from an
extremely generalized and quite vague geologic map
from Wikipedia showing the extent of then Siberian
trap are completely wrong according to direct field
observations made of the geology of the Patom Cone
(a.k.a. Patomsky crater, Patom crater, or Eagle Nest)
by Soviet and Russian geologists, who have visited it.
Both the Wikipedia map and especially its source map
on the Mantle Plumes web site are quite useless in
determining the local geology of the Patom Cone.
These maps lack the needed resolution; their scale is
much too small; and their outcrops are far too
generalized to be of any use. Descriptions of the local
geology of Patom Cone area by Alekseyev (2012),
Antipin and Fedorov (2008), and Ermolin et al. (2011)
all demonstrate that volcanic rocks associated with the
Siberian Traps or any other volcanism are completely
absent from the immediate vicinity of the Patom Cone.
Instead, the local bedrock consists of folded, Proterozoic
limestones and quartz sandstones of the Mariinsk
Formation The Patom Cone rests directly on the
southwestward dipping limestones of the Mariinsk
Formation as shown the above papers.

Eman also wrote:

“Now consult the ground or space photos ( original
links and/or Goggle Earth) of this cone and note the
apparent adjacent lava strata exposures and their down
slope orientation.”

Geological maps in the published literature, i.e.
Figure 2 of Antipin and Fedorov (2008), clearly
demonstrate that the “apparent adjacent lava strata
exposures” consist only of Proterozoic limestone and
quartz sandstone of the Mariinsk Formation. They
are dipping to the southwest at 25 to 40 degrees.

Eman also wrote:

“This is consistent with the formation conditions for
pingo and also explains the presence of a block of
"pillow lava" in the cone's center.”

Descriptions of lithology of the rock comprising the
Patom Cone can be found in Alekseyev (2012) and
Antipin and Fedorov (2008) In these descriptions of the
Patom Crater that can be found in the above papers,
there is a complete lack of any mention of any pillow
lava or any other volcanic rock having been found in
rock that comprises the Patom Cone. Specifically the
Patom Cone consists of 1 massive crystalline limestones
with quartz–muscovite carbonate veins; 2. Massive
fine-grained crystalline limestones with quartz veins;
and 3. weathered limestone rubble with rare blocks
of metamorphosed sandstones and schists. No mention
is made in any of the published papers that I have
found of the occurrence of either “pillow lavas” or
other volcanic rocks either in or associated with this
landform. Finally, the uncaptioned web page images,
which have been interpreted to be pillow lavas, are
clearly not pillow lavas. More likely, the features seen
in these images are the either spheroidal weathering
of highly deformed mudstones. There is a complete
absence of any documented evidence in the published
literature for the occurrence of Siberian traps or any
other volcanic rocks within the immediate vicinity the
Patom Cone.

One problem is that I cannot find any discussion of
where the pictures that have been interpreted to be
"pillow lava" were taken. It is unknown whether pictures
of the so-called "pillow lavas" are of either part of the
Patom Cone or adjacent outcrops.

Eman also wrote:

“Were this a feature (Patomsky Krater) studied by a
present day geologist…”

According to the published literature, the Patom Cone
was discovered in 1949 and has been periodically
studied and published on by Russian and Soviet
geologists since 1951 up until a 2012 paper, Alekseyev
(2012). The published literature clearly demonstrates
that “present day geologists” have been studying and
publishing on the Patom Cone. One problem is that
“naive photo journalists” and bloggers have ignored the
published research and instead decided to be
entertaining over being scientific. The other problem
is that much of the published literature is in Russian
and buried in paper publications with the exception
of the papers that can be found online. Fortunately, my
wife is fluent in both Russian and English and can
translate Russian-language geology papers for me.

As far as the Patom Cone being an unique structure,
Antipin and Fedorov (2008) noted that they have
searched the region of the Patom Cone in detail. As
Russian geologists, they and the Soviet geologists
before them would have access to aerial photocopy
that outside geologists would not have access to.
Antipin and Fedorov (2008) specifically states:

“Patom Crater (Fig. 1) is unique and the only object
of this kind in the vast area of Patom Highland.”

Since 1951, i.e. Kolpakov (1951), Soviet and Russian
geologists have been searching the region for additional
landforms like the of the Patom Cone and have found
none. If they conclude that it is an unique landform for
the region, I have to go along with their evaluation
unless someone can provide hard, well-documented
evidence to the contrary instead of hypothetical arm-
waving about how difficult it is to search the region.

I have met and know Soviet field geologists enough to
know that they are quite capable of mapping of geology
under very difficult circumstance in the field. Also, the
Soviet government and later the current Russian
government and private companies have devoted
enormous resources to geological mapping, including
the use of aerial imagery and other remote sensing, that
far exceeds what western governments had even begun
of thinking of doing. They have a an amazing grasp of
the geology of Russia that seems to be greatly
underestimated and underappreciated on this list. In
addition, the area of the Patom Cone has been the subject
of very detailed studies and searches using dedicated
aerial imagery and geophysical methdos in past several
years as noted in Alekseyev (2012). From what I have
found the Soviet and Russian geologists, who have
studied this landform, regard it as being unique within
the Patom Highlands in which it lies.

I agree that the Patom Cone is likely an odd sort of
periglacial landform, possibly related to pingos. However,
it is far more complicated in origin than being just
another “pingo.” Mindlessly dismissing this feature as a
“pingo” grossly disregards the unique features of this
landform that have been discussed in detail by the
geologists, i.e. Alekseyev (2012), Antipin and Fedorov
(2008), Antipin et al. (2011), Ermolin (2011), and
Kolpakov (1951), who have studied this landform in
the field and published on it.

References Cited

Alekseyev ,V.R., 2012. Cryovolcanism and the mystery
of the Patom cone. Geodynamics & Tectonophysics.
vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 289–307. doi:10.5800/GT-2012-3-3-0075. and

Antipin, V. S., and A. M. Fedorov, 2008, The origin of
Patom Crater, East Siberia, from geological and
geochemical data. Doklady Earth Sciences. vol. 423,
no. 2, pp. 1335-1339

Antipin, V. S., A. M. Fedorov, S. I. Dril’, and V. I. Voronin,
2011, The new data on the origin of the Patom Crater (East
Siberia). Doklady Earth Sciences. vol. 440, no. 2, pp. 1391-1395

Ermolin, E., O. Ingerov, and А. Saviсhev, 2012, Results of
AMT survey of Patom crater area. Extended Abstract, 21st
EM Induction Workshop Darwin, Australia, July 25-31, 2012.\\\

Kolpakov, V.V., 1951. A mysterious crater in the Patom
highland. Priroda. vol. 2, pp. 58–59.

Other papers expressing diverse opinions are:

Stazhevskii, S. B., 2011, Origination and development
mechanics of the Earth's morphostructures. Part I: Etiology
and evolution of the Patomsky crater. Journal of Mining
Science. vol. 47, no. 4, pp. 413-426.

Stazhevskii, S. B., 2012, Origination and development
mechanics of the Earth’s morphostructures. Part II: The
nature of diatreme, karst and trappean formations, and
the Chicxulub Crater origin. Journal of Mining Science.
vol. 48, no. 1, pp. 55-70.


Paul H.