Door to Hell
The Door to Hell is noted for its natural gas fire which has been burning continuously since it was lit by Soviet petrochemical scientists in 1971. The fire is fed by the rich natural gas deposits in the area. The pungent smell of burning sulfur pervades the area for some distance.
People visiting “The Door to Hell”, a huge burning gas crater in the heart of Turkmenistan’s Karakum desert on May 3. The fiery pit was the result of a simple miscalculation by Soviet scientists in 1971 after their boring equipment suddenly drilled through into an underground cavern and a deep sinkhole formed.
Fearing that the crater would emit poisonous gases, the scientists took the decision to set it alight, thinking that the gas would burn out quickly and this would cause the flames to go out. But the flames have not gone out in more than 40 years, in a potent symbol of the vast gas reserves of Turkmenistan, which are believed to be the fourth largest in the world.