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

From the center 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 is a monument to Soviet imperial failure, a roiling wound of failed engineering,” Krasowski said.

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

The gas crater, dubbed the 'Door to Hell' by locals, is located in the middle of the Karakum Desert in the former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan. Afghanistan sits to the southeast and Iran to the southwest.

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.

Forty-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.

Krasowski, shown here, visited the gas crater in 2009. He poetically described it as the 'greatest campfire in the world.'

'Peaceful nights can be spent under the stars, basking in its warmth. But as sun set on my visit, a sandstorm kicked up that tore apart our tents and sent us fleeing through the desert for the shelter of a village, visibility near zero, hoping no camels would cross our path,' Krasowski said of his trip.

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

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

In 2010, Turkmenistan president Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov 'ordered local authorities to look for ways to get rid of it,' Bloomberg reported.

Source: Bloomberg

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

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