The Door to Hell (also known as the Crater of Fire) is a natural wonder of sorts helped along by poor human foresight. It is a crater sitting on top of a large supply of methane gas which has now been burning continuously since 1971. Rather than becoming a place to avoid, the Door to Hell has since become a tourist destination and strangely a popular place to go camping.
In the early 1970s, surveyors from the Soviet Union came to this area of Turkmenistan in search of potential oil well sites. While sampling the area, the heavy prospecting equipment collapsed into a large sinkhole forming a crater, out of which spewed large quantities of methane gas. Rather than plug up the hole, the engineers attempted to burn off the gas. It was thought that this would take a few days, but the fire has now been going strong for over forty years.
The Door to Hell does appear to be worthy of being an infernal gate. Geologically there is not much to the site. The area around the crater is a large, grassy steppe with low rolling hills. However, beneath the surface is a network of caverns which ties into a massive natural source of methane gas. The crater was formed when heavy equipment caused one of the caverns to collapse.
The Door to Hell has become a local curiosity, drawing thousands of visitors every year (including many who come to camp). It is not in any way a sanctioned or protected site, and in fact there are plans now to plug it up so that natural gas production can take place in the area. Web: N/A.
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