Tour The Man-Made Crater That's Been Burning For More Than 40 Years

Gates of Hell

Photo: Stefan Krasowski/Rapid Travel Chai

From the centre of the Karakum desert in Asia, a massive crater, dubbed the “Door to Hell,” has been spewing flames for more than 40 years.  

The ceaseless fire, which can be seen for miles in the distance, is not a natural phenomena. It’s the result of a Soviet drilling rig accident in 1971.

Stefan Krasowski, a New York-based business executive who blogs about his worldly travels at Rapid Travel Chai visited the giant underground inferno in 2009.

“Darvaza [Gas Crater] is a monument to Soviet imperial failure, a roiling wound of failed engineering,” Krasowski says. 

The adventurer was kind of enough to share some photos with us.  

Turkmenistan has the fourth largest reserves of natural gas in the world, producing about 75 billion cubic meters of gas each year.

Source: Bloomberg

Soviet geologists accidentally hit the underground pocket of natural gas while drilling in 1971.

The ground collapsed and the drilling rig fell into the hole.

To prevent methane from escaping, the geologists set the cave on fire hoping it would burn off the excess gas in a few days.

40-one years later, the Darvaza Gas Crater is still burning.

The gas crater is almost 200 feet across (about the length of 13 cars) and 70 feet deep.

The giant inferno illuminates the desert at night.

Burning sulfur can be smelled from miles away.

A near limitless supply of natural gas beneath the crater continues to fuel the fire.

Unfortunatley, the methane-emitting cave is making it difficult to drill nearby gas fields, hindering Turkmenistan's plans to triple its production.

Source: Bloomberg

The massive blaze remains one of Turkmenistan's biggest tourist attractions.

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