When Vadim Kolpakov went on an expedition to the north of Irkutsk region, he had no inkling of the sensational discovery he was about to make.
© The Siberian Times
Patomskiy crater, Irkutsk region, pictured in 2006.
Having an official task to draw up a geological map of the region, a young geologist ended up running into something so unique, outstanding and mysterious that it would still puzzle scientists more than six decades later - the Patomskiy crater.
A host of theories have been put forward in the intervening years: that the crater was created by an ancient civilisation, or by prisoners at a top secret Stalin labour camp, or by volcanic activity, or by a meteorite, or by an underground hydrogen explosion, or by a UFO. And even more tantalising: by two UFOs.
Stories have been handed down by native people - who knew about the 'cursed crater' long before Kolpakov revealed it to the outside world. Among these accounts, were warnings that this 'Devil's Place' was dangerous to humans.
Questions remain unanswered about a phenomenon that has been called 'The Most Mysterious Place in Russia'. For example, why don't trees grow on the side of the cone-like structure? Radiation levels are low now, but there is evidence they were once very high: why?
Despite a number of expeditions by eminent scientists, no-one has yet come up with an undisputed answer to what - or who - created this strange structure. A new mission to the remote crater is due in the coming months seeking to finally answer this question.