The Darvaza Gas Crater, aka as the Gates of Hell.
This fiery pit has been burning since the 1970s when Turkmenistan was still under Soviet rule. In the distant past, the Karakum Desert was an obscure corner of the Silk Road, but its modern economy is much more robust, thanks to rich deposits of oil and gas. Although there is some dispute about the origin of the crater, the most common explanation states that in 1971, a drilling rig broke into a giant underground gas chamber, which collapsed, taking the rig with it. That initial breakthrough caused other areas to crumble, eventually making a crater 70m wide and 20m deep.
The only people in the area live in a tiny community of 350 camel herders and rug makers called Darvaza.
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This page was last updated on 2021.03.23