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May 16, 2012

The Burning Pit of Darvaza, Turkmenistan

Darvaza Gas Crater
By autarken
If at night you approach a certain spot in the middle of the desolate Karakum Desert outside the village of Darvaza, Turkmenistan, you will see a strange glow light up the clouds in a red hue. The locals call it ”The Burning Gate” or ”The Door to Hell”. Like something straight out of the Book of Revelation, it is a perpetually burning pit 60 meters in diameter and 20 meters deep.

In 1971, Soviet engineers were drilling in the spot when they accidentally hit an underground pocket of natural gas. The ground beneath their equipment collapsed and plunged the entire rig into the resulting pit, opening up routes for gas to be released into the air. Rather than let the possibly poisonous fumes be vented into the atmosphere, the engineers decided to set it aflame, hoping the gas would run out in a few days. But it never did. The Darvaza Gas Crater, as it’s also called, continues burning to this day and is showing no signs of stopping any time soon.

Accentuating the infernal impression is the smell of burning sulfur, which can be detected from a distance and becomes quite powerful as you near the edge of the pit.

A closer view of the pit
By Simon Bradshaw


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