The 230ft-wide crater, known by locals in Turkmenistan as the ‘Door to Hell’, has baffled scientists since it first appeared more than 40 years ago. Originally a level surface, the site was identified by Soviet scientists in 1971 as an area that was believed to house a substantial oil field. However, the ground beneath the drilling rig soon collapsed, creating a wide crater that was believed to be releasing large quantities of methane gas, a potential danger to the nearby villages in Derweze, Turkmenistan.
Scientists decided that the most efficient way to solve the problem would be to burn off the poisonous gases — by doing so, it was expected that all of the gas in the crater would be burnt off within days. More than four decades later, though, the crater is still ablaze with endless flames and boiling mud – and hundreds of tourists flock to visit it every year. The Karakum Desert, where Derweze is located, has one of the largest gas reserves in the world. Turkmenistan hopes to up its exportation rate around 75 million cubic meters of gas in the next 20 years.