Darvaza gas crater

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Darvaza gas crater
Darvasa gas crater panorama.jpg
Darvaza gas crater, 2011
Darvaza gas crater is located in Turkmenistan
Darvaza gas crater
Location of Darvaza gas crater
RegionAhal Province
Coordinates40°15′09″N 58°26′23″E / 40.2525°N 58.4396°E / 40.2525; 58.4396Coordinates: 40°15′09″N 58°26′23″E / 40.2525°N 58.4396°E / 40.2525; 58.4396

The Darvaza gas crater (Turkmen: Garagum ýalkymy),[1] also known as the Door to Hell or Gates of Hell, is a burning natural gas field collapsed into a cavern near Darvaza, Turkmenistan.[2] How the crater formed and ignited remains unknown.[3]


A crater filled with water; gas bubbles are visible.[4] About 23 km from the Darvaza Gas Crater.[4]

The gas crater is near the village of Darvaza; it is in the middle of the Karakum Desert, about 260 kilometres (160 mi) north of Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan.[4] There are other craters nearby.[4] The crater has a diameter of 70 metres (230 ft) and has a depth of about 20 metres (66 ft).

The Mud Crater. About 10 km from the Darvaza Gas Crater.


The early years of the crater's history are uncertain.[3][5] Relevant records are either absent from the archives or classified or inaccessible.[1][3] Some local geologists have claimed that the collapse into a crater happened in the 1960s; it was set on fire only in the 1980s to prevent emission of poisonous gases.[6] Others assert that the site was drilled by Soviet engineers in 1971 as an oil-field but collapsed within days, forming the crater; the engineers chose to flare the crater to prevent emission of poisonous gases but underestimated the volume of the gas.[7]

Controlling the burn[edit]

In April 2010, President Berdimuhamedow recommended that measures be taken to limit the crater's influence on the development of other natural gas fields in the area.[8] In January 2022, Berdimuhamedov announced plans to extinguish the crater in light of its negative effects on the environment and public health; a commission was established to find the optimum technique.[9][10]

Tourism and Culture[edit]

The Darvaza gas crater and the surroundings. Tents are visible, which facilitates a nocturnal trip to the site.[4]

In post-Soviet Turkmenistan, the crater became a minor tourist attraction,[6] perhaps, aided to an extent by the declaration of the region as a natural reserve in 2013.[7] As of 2022, there is no road to access the crater and tourists had to depend on local guides.[7][10] In 2018, the gas crater was used as an overnight stop in the Amul-Hazar automobile rally.[11] In 2019, Berdimuhamedow appeared on state television doing doughnut stunts around the crater to disprove and correct rumours of his death.[12]

George Kourounis[edit]

In 2013, George Kourounis became the first person to set foot at the bottom of the crater;[5] he was gathering soil samples for the Extreme Microbiome Project.[13] The descent was featured in an episode of the National Geographic Channel series Die Trying; National Geographic had sponsored the expedition.[6]

I describe it as a coliseum of fire—just everywhere you look it's thousands of these small fires. The sound was like that of a jet engine, this roaring, high-pressure, gas-burning sound. And there was no smoke. It burns very cleanly, so there's nothing to obscure your view. You can just see every little lick of flame.

George Kourounis, Interview with National Geographic[6]

Kourounis used a custom-made Kevlar harness attached to multiple Technora ropes; he wore a full-body aluminized suit and used a self-contained breathing apparatus.[14] He has since wished to descend into the crater again, carrying other equipments for a better profiling of the local biome.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Davies, Elliott (2017-01-26). "I traveled to the middle of the desert to see 'The Door To Hell'". Business Insider. Retrieved 2017-01-28.
  2. ^ Bland, Stephen (2014-04-08). "Turkmenistan Has Its Very Own 'Gate to Hell'". Vice.com. Retrieved 2017-01-28.
  3. ^ a b c "How the Soviets accidentally discovered the 'Gates of Hell'". BBC. 2020-10-23. Retrieved 2020-10-23.
  4. ^ a b c d e Brummell, Paul (2005). Turkmenistan. Bradt Travel Guides. pp. 133–134. ISBN 978-1-84162-144-9.
  5. ^ a b Shearlaw, Maeve (2014-07-18). "Dropping in on Turkmenistan's 'door to hell' – in pictures". The Guardian. Retrieved 2017-04-29.
  6. ^ a b c d Nunez, Christina (2014-07-14). "Q&A: The First-Ever Expedition to Turkmenistan's 'Door to Hell'". National Geographic. Retrieved 2017-01-28.
  7. ^ a b c "Turkmenistan hopes 'Door to Hell' will boost tourism". CTV News. Relaxnews. Agence France-Presse. 2014-06-22. Retrieved 2017-01-28.
  8. ^ Gurt, Marat (2010-04-20). "Turkmen president wants to close "Hell's Gate"". Reuters. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  9. ^ "Turkmenistan plans to close its 'Gateway to Hell'". BBC News. 2022-01-08. Retrieved 2022-12-28.
  10. ^ a b Galer, Sophia Smith (10 January 2022). "The 'Gates of Hell' Could be Closed After Blazing for 50 Years". VICE.
  11. ^ "International rally Amul – Hazar - Turkmen desert race 2018". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan.
  12. ^ "Turkmenistan's leader does doughnuts next to the flaming crater to prove he's not dead". ABC News. 2019-08-07. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  13. ^ Tighe, Scott; Afshinnekoo, Ebrahim; Rock, Tara M.; McGrath, Ken; Alexander, Noah; McIntyre, Alexa; Ahsanuddin, Sofia; Bezdan, Daniela; Green, Stefan J.; Joye, Samantha; Stewart Johnson, Sarah; Baldwin, Don A.; Bivens, Nathan; Ajami, Nadim; Carmical, Joseph R. (April 2017). "Genomic Methods and Microbiological Technologies for Profiling Novel and Extreme Environments for the Extreme Microbiome Project (XMP)". Journal of Biomolecular Techniques. 28 (1): 31–39. doi:10.7171/jbt.17-2801-004. ISSN 1524-0215. PMC 5345951. PMID 28337070.
  14. ^ a b Dalton, Louisa (7 November 2022). "How to Pack for Sampling Earth's Hottest Pockets: Adventurous scientists traverse hellish landscapes in Iceland, Turkmenistan, and Hawaii". ACS Chemical Health & Safety. 29 (6): 470–471. doi:10.1021/acs.chas.2c00081. S2CID 253413420.