In the Ahal Province of Turkmenistan, there is a natural gas field. This gas field is in an area called Derweze (meaning gate) and it contains an interesting phenomenon known as “The Door to Hell”. It is known for the continuous fire that burns inside the gas field from 1971.
The fire was lit by Soviet petroleum engineers. The fire burns continuously because of rich natural gas deposits in the field. You can smell the pungent smell of sulfur around the area from afar.
The field is situated near the Derweze village. It is located in the middle of the Karakoum Desert and is about 160 miles off away from the city of Ashgabat. The world’s largest gas field is located here.
The locals gave the name “The Door to Hell” to the burning crater because of the prominent emission of heat and boiling mud. The crater has a diameter of 230ft and the hotspot has a diameter of 200ft. The crater is about 66ft deep.
The gas field was found the Soviet engineers in 1971 and they presumed it to be a substantial oil field. The engineers started research by setting up a drilling rig and a camp nearby to check the quantity of gas available at the site. The Soviets started to store the gas as they believed they had found the best site in the world for an oil field. One night the ground beneath drilling rig collapsed and they rig disappeared in the crater.
The positive side is that no lives were lost in this incident. As the gas released would be poisonous, the engineers decided to burn the gas off. They believed that it would be safer to burn it than to extract it from underground through expensive methods. When they set the gas on fire many expected to the gas to run out in a few weeks however, the gas still continues to burn around 4 decades later.
A recent expedition into the crater has yielded the existence of extremophile organisms that still continue to survive inside it. In future prospects, the president of Turkmenistan has vowed to close the crater fearing that it will have an effect on the surrounding sources of natural gas.
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