Hell On Earth: A Massive Crater In The Middle Of The Desert Has Been Burning For Decades

Ladies and gents, meet the Gateway, or Doorway to hell.

There is a mysterious crater in the middle of the desert that simply put, can’t stop burning.

This massive crater located in Turkmenistan has not stopped burning since 1971, the year in which it was created by accident.

In the middle of the Karakum desert, in Turkmenistan, a singular flaming hole emerges from the earth: the well of Darvaza, popularly known as “Door to Hell.”


Darzava well 2
Burn baby burn… Image Credit: Shutterstock.

It is a huge crater that burns day and night without ceasing for nearly 50 years.


The strange circular depression, near the small village of Darvaza, is located on a huge desert that occupies practically 70% of the territory of the country and is very rich in oil and natural gas.

The origin of the crater goes back to a accident that took place in 1971, when a group of Soviet geologists, believing they had found a natural gas field, was conducting a survey in the area.

However, in the middle of their research, the earth split open and swallowed their machinery and the tents, before the astonished look of the researchers.

Turns out they had discovered an underground cave filled with natural gas.

Aware of this, and fearing that the dangerous gases escaped, the geologists decided to set it on fire thinking that it would eventually cease to burn in a few days. Little did they know how wrong they were.

1024px Darvasa gas crater panorama
The Door to Hell, a burning natural gas field in Derweze, Turkmenistan. This image is made from three 17mm shots stitched together and the field of view (~170°) is larger than it may appear (the field has roughly the size of two basketball courts). Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Ever since it was set on fire, the Door To Hell burns without stopping and offers a show so impressive that it attracts tourists and adventurers to the remote area. Since 2009, 50,000 tourists have visited the site. The gas crater has a total area of 5,350 m2. The surrounding area is also popular for wild desert camping.

And although there have been several attempts to put out the crater flames, 69 meters in diameter and 30 meters deep, the flames continue to urn just as they started burning 47 years ago.

Inside the Door To Hell, the temperatures reach 1000 degrees Celsius.

Curiously, Canadian explorer George Kourounis—a man with real cojones—became the first person to descend into the crater, in 2013.

Darzava well
The well is a tourist attraction. Image Credit: Shutterstock.

To achieve this extraordinary feat, Kourounis used a special system of pulleys, a heat-resistant suit, and breathing equipment.

Inside the well, he was able to take samples that allowed him to discover a methane-rich bacteria present in the burning environment.

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