The Turkmenistan's Karakum Desert holds a unique and very very rare sighting. Deep in the middle of the desert lies a deep fire pit, known as the Door to Hell or Gates of Hell and has been burning for over years.
You may wonder how this unique crater became filled with fire and how it is still boring to the day. To understand this magnificent wonder, we will have to go back in time. To be more specific all the way back to 1971.
During that time, the country was part of the Soviet Union. Soviet engineers made their way to the desert with the hopes that they will find oil. Once a possible spot was identified, the drilling rig was set up to check oil quality in the area. However, quickly after starting drilling they realised that it wasn’t oil, but in fact a large pocket of natural gas that couldn't support that immense weight and soon collapsed.
This led to a giant cavity called the Darvaza crater, which measures at 230 feet across and 65 feet deep. The collapse not only caused a ripple effect for other craters to open, but the natural gas was rapidly escaping. Natural gas is mainly made from methane, which sparked various of concerns as methane absorbs oxygen. In fact, these fears were warranted because not long after the collapse, animals in the desert began to die.
Pressed for time, scientists had to spring into action and decided to set the gas on fire seeing that natural gas cannot be trapped. Originally the burn and the gasses was expected to take a few weeks, however, the flames have been burning ever since.
To the day, scientists are still trying to figure out how much natural gas is fuelling the fire. In 2010, Turkmenistan's president, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, visited the crater and said that it should be closed up. And in 2013 he declared the part of the desert containing the crater a natural reserve. However, as of today, the Gates of Hell still burn brightly and at night its wicked orange glow can be seen for miles.