Darvaza gas crater

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Darvaza gas crater
Darvasa gas crater panorama.jpg
Panorama of the gas site burning, 2011
Darvaza gas crater is located in Turkmenistan
Darvaza gas crater
Location of the Darvaza gas crater in Turkmenistan
RegionDerweze, Ahal 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
Field history

The Darvaza gas crater (Turkmen: Jähennem derwezesi, Җәхеннем дервезеси),[1][2][3] known locally as the "Door to Hell" or ''Gates of Hell", is a natural gas field collapsed into an underground cavern located in Derweze, Turkmenistan.[4] Geologists set it on fire to prevent the spread of methane gas, and it is thought to have been burning continuously since 1971. The diameter of the crater is 69 metres (226 ft), and its depth is 30 metres (98 ft).[5]

The crater is a popular tourist attraction. Since 2009, 50,000 tourists have visited the site.[6] The gas crater has a total area of 5,350 m2. The surrounding area is also popular for wild desert camping.


The gas crater is located near the village of Derweze, also known as Darvaza. 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).[7] 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).[8]


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

According to Turkmen geologist Anatoly Bushmakin, the site was identified by Soviet engineers in 1971.[6] It was originally thought to be a substantial oil field site.[9] The engineers set up a drilling rig and operations to assess the quantity of oil available at the site. Soon after the preliminary survey found a natural gas pocket, the ground beneath the drilling rig and camp collapsed into a wide crater and was buried.[6]

Expecting dangerous releases of poisonous gases from the cavern into nearby towns, the engineers thought it best to burn the gas off. 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.[6]

The early years of the crater's history are uncertain:[10] local geologists say the collapse into a crater happened in the 1960s, and the gases were not set on fire until the 1980s. There are, however, no records available of the Soviet or Turkmen version of events.[5][3]

In April 2010, the President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, visited the site and ordered that the hole should be closed. In 2013, he declared the part of the Karakum Desert with the crater a nature reserve.[6]

The crater was featured in an episode of the short-lived (2014) National Geographic Channel series Die Trying. In the July 16, 2014 episode "Crater of Fire", explorer George Kourounis became the first person to ever set foot at the bottom, gathering samples of extremophile microorganisms.[11] An edited photograph of the crater was also released as publicity for the then-upcoming 2014 Godzilla film, with the image depicting MONARCH agents and vehicles investigating the site.

Effects on future development of gas[edit]

On President Berdimuhamedow's April 2010 visit, he recommended that measures be taken to limit the crater's influence on the development of other natural gas fields in the area.[8] At that time, Turkmenistan announced plans to increase its production of natural gas, intending to increase its export of gas to many countries such as Pakistan, China, India, Iran, Russia, and Western Europe, from its then yearly production level to a new production level of 225 billion cubic metres (7.9 trillion cubic feet) by 2030.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Soldani, Bianca (2016-06-24). "Turkmenistan's 'door to hell' has been burning for 45 years". Topics. Retrieved 2017-01-27.
  2. ^ Geiling, Natasha (2014-05-20). "This Hellish Desert Pit Has Been On Fire for More Than 40 Years". Smithsonian. Retrieved 2017-01-27.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Bland, Stephen (2014-04-08). "Turkmenistan Has Its Very Own 'Gate to Hell'". Vice. Retrieved 2017-01-28.
  5. ^ a b Nunez, Christina (2014-07-14). "Q&A: The First-Ever Expedition to Turkmenistan's "Door to Hell"". National Geographic. Retrieved 2017-01-28.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Turkmenistan hopes 'Door to Hell' will boost tourism". Relaxnews. 2014-06-22. Retrieved 2017-01-28 – via CTV News.
  7. ^ "What a 'hell hole'!". Pakistan Daily Times. 2012-09-14. Archived from the original on 2014-06-06. Retrieved 2012-10-11.
  8. ^ a b c Gurt, Marat (2010-04-20). "Turkmen president wants to close "Hell's Gate"". Reuters. Retrieved 2012-12-16.
  9. ^ Press, Frank; Siever, Raymond (January 2010). Earth. American Geological Institute. p. 22. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  10. ^ Shearlaw, Maeve (2014-07-18). "Dropping in on Turkmenistan's 'door to hell' – in pictures". The Guardian. Retrieved 2017-04-29.
  11. ^ Christina Nunez (2014-07-16). "Q&A: The First-Ever Expedition to Turkmenistan's "Door to Hell"". National Geographic. Retrieved 2017-01-28.