Door to Hell

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Door to Hell, Gates to Hell, Crater of Fire
Darvasa gas crater panorama.jpg
Panorama of the gas site burning, 2011
Door to Hell is located in Turkmenistan
Door to Hell
Location of the Door to Hell fire in Turkmenistan
Country Turkmenistan
Region Derweze, Ahal Province
Offshore/onshore onshore
Coordinates 40°15′9.4″N 58°26′21.8″E / 40.252611°N 58.439389°E / 40.252611; 58.439389Coordinates: 40°15′9.4″N 58°26′21.8″E / 40.252611°N 58.439389°E / 40.252611; 58.439389
Field history
Discovery 1971
Abandonment 1971

The Door to Hell (also known as the Gates to Hell, the Crater of Fire, Darvaza Crater) is a natural gas field in Derweze, Turkmenistan, that collapsed into an underground cavern in 1971, becoming a natural gas crater. Geologists set it on fire to prevent the spread of deadly methane gas, and it has been burning continuously since then. The diameter of the crater is 69 m, and its depth is 30 m.[1]

The crater is a popular tourist attraction. In the past five years 50,000 tourists have visited the site.[2] The gas crater has a total area of 5,350 m2, the size of an American football field. The surrounding area is also popular for wild desert camping.


The gas crater is located near the Derweze village. It is in the middle of the Karakum Desert, about 260 kilometres (160 mi) north of Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan. The gas reserve found here is one of the largest in the world. The name "Door to Hell" was given to the field by the locals, referring to the fire, boiling mud, and orange flames in the large crater, which has a diameter of 70 metres (230 ft).[3] The hot spots range over an area with a width of 60 metres (200 ft) and to a depth of about 20 metres (66 ft).[4]


The "Door to Hell" and the surrounding area, including where the tents usually are pitched, a couple of hundred meters away to the south of the crater.

The site was identified by Soviet engineers in 1971.[5] It was originally thought to be a substantial oil field site.[6] The engineers set up a drilling rig and camp nearby, and started drilling operations to assess the quantity of oil available at the site. When they instead found gas, the ground beneath the drilling rig and camp collapsed into a wide crater and disappeared.

Expecting dangerous releases of poisonous gases from the cavern into nearby towns, the engineers thought it best to burn the gas off.[3] It was estimated that the gas would burn out within a few weeks, but it has instead continued to burn for more than four decades.[3]

The crater was featured in a Die Trying episode titled "Crater of Fire". Explorer George Kourounis became the first person to ever set foot at the bottom, gathering samples of extremophile microorganisms. The episode was broadcast on the National Geographic Channel on July 16, 2014.[7]

Effects on future development of gas[edit]

In April 2010, the president of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, visited the site and ordered that the hole should be closed, or measures be taken to limit its influence on the development of other natural gas fields in the area.[5] Turkmenistan plans to increase its production of natural gas, intending to increase its export of gas to many countries for example Pakistan, China, India, Iran, Russia, and Western Europe from its present level to 75 million cubic metres (2.6×10^9 cu ft) in the next 20 years.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Christina Nunez (17 July 2014). "Q&A: The First-Ever Expedition to Turkmenistan's "Door to Hell"". National Geographic. 
  2. ^ "Turkmenistan hopes 'Door to Hell' will boost tourism". CTV News. 22 June 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c "What a ‘hell hole’!". Pakistan Daily Times. September 14, 2012. Retrieved 11 October 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Marat Gurt (20 April 2010). "Turkmen president wants to close "Hell's Gate"". Reuters. Retrieved 16 December 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "The Door to Hell: Take a look inside a giant hole in the desert which has been on fire for more than 40 YEARS". Daily Mail. 27 July 2012. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  6. ^ American Geological Institute (January 2010). Earth. American Geological Institute. p. 22. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  7. ^ Christina Nunez (16 July 2014). "Q&A: The First-Ever Expedition to Turkmenistan's "Door to Hell"". National Geographic.