The Gate To Hell

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There are places on Earth that are very creepy, places that feel haunted and places that are downright hellish. The Darvaza gas crater fits into that latter group and its threatening burning flames are only half of it. Located in the Karakum Desert the pit attracts hundreds of tourists each year. It also attracts desert wildlife – reportedly from time to time local spiders are seen plunging into the pit by the thousands, lured to their deaths by the glowing flames.

The Darvaza (also known as Derweze) area is enormously wealthy in natural gas. While drilling in 1971, the Sovietsaccidently tapped into a gigantic underground deposit of natural gas and it caused the ground to collapse with the complete drilling rig falling.

The Darvaza crater of gas is nicknamed “The Door to Hell” is a 20 meters deep hole and 60 meters wide in and is almost in the exact middle of thespacious and hot Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan. This gas has been burning for the last 43 years. But – the hole is not of a natural source. This large gas crater is due because of theresult of the Soviet gas survey accident that occurred in 1971.

When the site buckled and took all the equipment with it – the occasioncaused the crumbling sedimentary rock of the desert to breakdown in other places also, creating a cascading-effect that resulted in several more open craters by the time it calmed down.The largest of these craters measures about 230-feet across and 65-feet deep.

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Reportedly, no one was injured in the collapse, but the scientists soon had another problem on their hands: the natural gas escaping from the crater. Natural gas is mademainly of methane, which, not toxic, does relocate oxygen, making it hard to breathe.

This wasn’t so much an issue for the scientists, but for the animals that call the Karakum Desert home—shortly after the collapse, animals roaming the area began to die. The escaping methane also causes dangers because of flammability—there only needs to be mere5% methane in the air for a huge explosion to possibly occur. So the scientists made the decision to light the gas crater on fire, hoping that all the dangerous natural gas would burn away in a mere few days or weeks’ time.

To stop the escape of gas full of poison going into the atmosphere, geologists made the logical assessment. They truly believed that the fire would use all the fuel up in a matter of just a few days, but as it happen, this source of natural gas beneath the crater is close to endless; so the crater has been burning since 1971.

On a dark night, the glow from this burning hole can be seen from miles away and smell of the burning sulfur can be identified from a distance that becomes quite strong the nearer you get to the the hot edge of the crater.

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