The Gates of Hell is also known as the Darvaza gas crater, located in Turkmenistan. It is a part of the Karakum Desert and was caused by Soviet engineers to prevent the spread of methane gas, but unfortunately setting it on fire an underground cavern instead. The ground collapsed because of the high pressure. It has been burning ever since!
The hole measures roughly 70 meters wide and 40-50 deep (or 230ft), creating what looks like a giant gateway into hell itself. Although it may seem that no one lives around the Gates of Hell, this isn’t entirely true. The Gates of Hell lie just outside the small town called Derweze (also spelled Darvaza). And 250 Turkmenistan villagers make their living on the Gates of Hell by catering to the tourists who come visit it every year.
The history behind the Gates of Hell
The site was first discovered by Soviet engineers in 1971, according to Turkmen geologist Anatoly Bushmakin. It was originally believed to be an enormous oil field. The engineers established a drilling rig and operations to estimate the quantity of oil accessible at the location. The ground beneath the drilling rig and camp collapsed into a huge hole, burying the rig without injuries, shortly after the preliminary survey revealed a natural gas pocket.
The engineers considered it necessary to burn off the gas in the cavern because of the potential for hazardous emissions of noxious gases from the cave into adjacent towns. It was predicted that after a few weeks, the gas would burn out; but it has continued to burn for more than 50 years, and it is expected to continue doing so.
The Soviets tried many different techniques over several decades to put out the fire but none of them worked until scientists learned how to mix concrete using sulfur instead of limestone. In 2010, researchers from around the world gathered at The Gates Of Hell for a three-day conference organized by the Earth Institute at Columbia University. There, they discussed plans for an experimental project that would attempt to burn up some of the methane and turn it into electricity.
The crater was the subject of a National Geographic Channel program called Die Trying. Explorer George Kourounis became the first person to step on the bottom of the Crater of Fire in an episode airing July 16, 2014, called “Crater of Fire.”
In January 2022, a panel was given the job of finding a solution to the burning gas crater in Darvaza. The goal of the commission is to either extinguish the Darvaza gas crater entirely or discover a method for the hole to burn while having minimal environmental impacts.