All about Gates of Hell in Turkmenistan
A fiery crater has been burning in the Karakum Desert of Turkmenistan for decades. It is officially called the Darwaza Gas Crater, and is popularly known as "Gates of Hell." It has been Turkmenistan's top tourist spot and people often hire a tour operator to visit the place. However, the country is likely to close this place soon. Here's more.
What exactly is Gates of Hell?
Gates of Hell is a huge hole in the Karakum Desert which is approximately 70 meters wide and around 20 meters deep. The bowl-shaped fiery hole started in 1971 when a Soviet drilling operation began to hunt for oil. Soon after they found a natural gas pocket, the surface below the drill rig crumbled and the rig plunged into a natural gas cavern.
Why was it set on fire?
To avoid harmful gases from spreading in the air, geologists set the hole on fire to burn off the gases. But five decades since the incident and the gas is still burning. Geologists have been waiting for the gases to end soon so that they can analyze the crater. But they believe that the gases might not end for another 500 years.
Its origins are still unclear
Locals believe that this crater is a portal to hell, hence they named it "Gates of Hell." There is still conjecture over how it was actually formed. While the Russian theory is quite well-known, local geologists believe that the crater was formed in the 1960s and was set on fire in the 1980s. But there is no data to support any of the theories.
Is the place likely to close?
Media reports suggest that Turkmenistan is planning to close the "Gates of Hell" in the Karakum desert. The president of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, has asked experts to look for a solution to extinguish the fire. Notably, in 2010 also the president had ordered to put off the fire in the crater. But the efforts did not prove to be successful.
Why does the President want to close it down?
On January 8, 2022, President Berdymukhamedov stated that several business opportunities are being compromised due to the fiery pit. He also said that the release of gases is harming the health of people living near the area. "We are losing valuable natural resources for which we could get significant profits and use them for improving the well-being of our people," he added.