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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 in Derweze, Turkmenistan, that collapsed into an underground cavern, becoming a natural gas crater.[4] Geologists set it on fire to prevent the spread of methane gas, and it has been burning continuously since 1971. The diameter of the crater is 69 metres (226 ft), and its depth is 30 metres (98 ft).[5]

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
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 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]

In April 2010, the president of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, visited the site and ordered that the hole should be closed.[10] In 2013, he declared the part of the Karakum Desert with the crater a nature reserve.[6]

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.[11]

Effects on future development of gasEdit

On President Berdimuhamedow's 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] Turkmenistan 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 present yearly production level to 225 billion cubic metres (7.9 trillion cubic feet) in the next 20 years.[8]

See alsoEdit


  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. ^ 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. ^ Christina Nunez (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. ^ American Geological Institute (January 2010). Earth. American Geological Institute. p. 22. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  10. ^ Preece, Rob (2012-07-27). "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. Retrieved 2012-10-10. 
  11. ^ Christina Nunez (2014-07-16). "Q&A: The First-Ever Expedition to Turkmenistan's "Door to Hell"". National Geographic. Retrieved 2017-01-28.