The Darvaza gas crater, commonly known as the Gates of Hell or Door to Hell, is an extraordinary geological formation. Located in Turkmenistan, this natural gas field collapsed into an underground cavern due to a drilling mishap.
Soviet engineers set the 230-foot hole on fire while exploring for gas in 1971. The ground beneath the drilling rig gave way, forming a cavernous sinkhole that released substantial amounts of methane gas into the atmosphere.
They expected the flames to die after a few days, but the controlled burn attempts to consume the gas failed. Instead, the opening torched continuously. Engineers set the escaping methane on fire to avoid poisoning nearby villages.
The Darvaza gas crater still burns five decades later
The Karakum Desert’s fiery gas crater has burned for over 50 years and is visible from miles away, a testament to the sheer volume of gas within the underground reservoir.
Oddly enough, the Darvaza gas crater has become a popular tourist attraction, drawing visitors from around the world to witness its mesmerizing flames. In fact, viewers can still see remnants of aged metal piping protruding from its surface.
Local tour operators offer guided excursions to the site, which typically include camping near the crater’s edge, allowing visitors to experience the breathtaking sight of the fiery pit at night. Just take caution against the strong winds.
Geologists believe the Darvaza gas crater could burn for another century or cease tomorrow. The unpredictability adds to the mystique.
Above all, the gas crater reminds us of the unintended consequences of human activities, resource exploitation, and the incredible resilience of nature.