In Derweze, Turkmenistan (Central Asia), there is a crater called “the Gate of Hell”. In the middle of the desert, this site attracts many curious people every year. And for good reason: a brazier has been burning there for more than 40 years. Strangely, this is not a natural occurrence, but a human-led experiment gone wrong. Explanations and pictures.
On fire since 1971
On the surface, one might think of an erupting volcano, but this is far from the case. In 1971, Soviet geologists began drilling the area for prospecting. However, they didn’t realize that they were drilling underground layers that contain gas. They came across an underground pocket in which some drilling equipment disappeared, but luckily there were no injuries. In response, they decided to set fire to this crater in order to avoid any possible health risks to the surrounding inhabitants. Indeed, they were afraid that this huge hole would emit dangerous gases. They hoped that the fire would burn the gas until it was extinguished. As you may have guessed, the flames have not been extinguished since that day, despite the fact that experts have tried to put it out.
From now on, this crater is the symbol of Turkmen power: its gas reserves are indeed the fourth densest in the world.
A huge crater and thousands of tourists
Today, the country is trying to turn this scientific error into a tourist site. However, this country of the former USSR is one of the most closed in the world. Apparently, this is not a hindrance for the 12 to 15,000 tourists who come each year to observe this extraordinary phenomenon.
In video, observe the “Gate of Hell” which is both very impressive and dangerous.
Even if this site is visited by thousands of curious people each year, no sign announces the crater in the desert, and no security barrier delimits it. If you want to observe the “Gate of Hell” with your own eyes, you will need to call on a local guide who will take you there. To be on the safe side, don’t get too close to the edge of this crater, as very often the ground collapses around it. In addition, the heat is extreme there, when gusts of hot air escape, especially in summer, when the temperature can reach 50°C. It is therefore necessary to be determined to venture into this desert.