karakum desert

A vivid display of Turkmenistan’s huge gas reserves is the Darvaza gas crater. In the 1970s, Soviet engineers accidentally collapsed this cavern about 260 km north of Ashgabat, while exploring for gas in the Karakum Desert. The escaping methane was lit, intending to quickly burn it off and avoid poisoning nearby villages, but it has continued burning ever since. Photo by Amos Chapple.

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Derweze - Gates of Hell

260km North of Ashgabat, in the middle of the Karakum Desert, Soviet geologists found an area rich with gas. In 1971, one of the drilling rigs collapsed under it’s own weight, leaving a gaping hole with a diameter of 70 meters. To avoid poisonous gas discharge, it was decided the best solution was to burn it off. Geologists hoped the fire would use all the fuel in a matter of days, but the gas is still burning, today over 40 years later. Locals have dubbed the cavern “Gates of Hell”. When the new President visited the area in 2010, he ordered it to be filled in, so I guess it’s only a matter of time before this crazy phenomenon disappears.

A picture taken on May 3, 2014, shows people visiting “The Gateway to Hell,” a huge burning gas crater in the heart of Turkmenistan’s Karakum desert. The fiery pit was the result of a simple miscalculation by Soviet scientists in 1971 after their boring equipment suddenly drilled through into an underground cavern and a deep sinkhole formed. Fearing that the crater would emit poisonous gases, the scientists took the decision to set it alight, thinking that the gas would burn out quickly and this would cause the flames to go out. But the flames have not gone out in more than 40 years, in a potent symbol of the vast gas reserves of Turkmenistan, which are believed to be the fourth largest in the world. AFP PHOTO / IGOR SASIN

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Derweze, also known as the door to hell, is a 70 meter wide hole in the middle of the Karakum desert in Turkmenistan. The hole was formed in 1971 when a team of soviet geologists had their drilling rig collapse when they hit a cavern filled with natural gas. In an attempt to avoid poisonous discharge, they decided to burn it off, thinking that the gas would be depleted in only a few days. Derweze is still burning today. 

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The Door to hell( also known as the door to my basement),
located in the Karakum Desert is a natural gas field which is
burning since it was lit by Soviet engineers in  1971 (40 years!!!! without a break)
The hole is the result of the ground which collapsed under the drilling platform 
To stop the release of the gas the engineers lit it which is better for the
environment.
Sveral fire extinguishing trys failed.

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Tourists visit ‘The Gateway to Hell,’ a huge burning gas crater in the heart of Turkmenistan’s Karakum desert. The fiery pit was the result of a simple miscalculation by Soviet scientists in 1971 after their boring equipment suddenly drilled through into an underground cavern and a deep sinkhole formed. Fearing that the crater would emit poisonous gases, the scientists took the decision to set it alight, thinking that the gas would burn out quickly and this would cause the flames to go out. But the flames have not gone out in more than 40 years, in a potent symbol of the vast gas reserves of Turkmenistan, which are believed to be the fourth largest in the world.
(Photo credit should read IGOR SASIN/AFP/Getty Images)