Most people have heard of the Chernobyl Disaster in Russia. But have you heard of the Elephant’s foot? In this photo, you can see it. It’s essentially a giant burning mass of radioactive material on the floor in the shape that resembles an Elephant’s foot.
The Elephant’s foot was originally created during the Chernobyl Disaster of 1986. Eight months after being created (during the initial meltdown), it was discovered. At that time, being present in the room with it for four minutes meant certain death. Today, radiation still exists in the area. Recently, in 2019, a new confinement construction project covered the entire nuclear site.
The Radioactive Elephant Foot in 1996
Ten years later, in 1996, the radioactive mass moved approximately 2 meters (6 feet) by melting through concrete and metal support structures. The mass was still hot, although cooling.
Today, in 2020, it’s been contained due to the new construction project to contain everything. It’s unclear if it’s still very hot or not, although it’s certainly still deadly due to the Uranium. Other metals that exist in the Elephant’s foot are titanium, zirconium, magnesium and graphite.
The outer “shell” of the elephants foot looks similar to tree bark or heated glass. As the core of the mass generates heat, the energy is transferred to the cooler surface, which then dissipates the heat and cracks, thus giving it a bark-like appearance.
The origin of the photo of the Elephant Foot
This photo was taken in 1996, by Deputy Director of the New Confinement Project, Artur Korneyev. A flash was used intaking the photo, because the room sits in complete darkness. 8 years later, Kornayev retired from his work, although his health remains.
It should be noted that the photo was taken under extremely dangerous conditions. Even though it was taken 10 years after the disaster, the radioactive material still poses a significant risk to visitors of the site.
There have been numerous documentaries and movies on Chernobyl. However, now that the site has been completely contained, we imagine that the fear factor will be less and people will begin visiting the Chernobyl containment site for some Instagram selfies.