In the middle of the Karakum desert in Turkmenistan there is a popular tourist attraction called The Darvaza gas crater, also known as “The door to hell”. At first sight this crater might come across as an active volcano, however, it is a burning pit of natural gas (methane).
How did Darvaza gas crater appear?
In 1971 a group of Soviet engineers thought this spot was an oil field. After setting up their equipment to estimate the amount of “black gold” hidden underneath the soil they have discovered a gas pocket. The gas caused the ground to collapse forming a massive crater. All of the equipment fell right into the hole, luckily no one was hurt.
Thinking the methane gas would be poisonous for the people living around the area, engineers decided to set it up on fire. The fire was expected to last for a few weeks but has now been burning for almost half a century!
Other interesting facts about the crater
- It measures 70m wide and 30m deep
- In 2016 the crater was made a nature reserve and is a popular attraction in Turkmenistan
- Methane (CH4) is third most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted. Check out how methane gas bubbles transform Abraham Lake during winter, interesting natural phenomena.