The Door to Hell is basically a natural gas field in Derweze, Ahal Province, Turkmenistan, noted for its natural gas fire which has been burning continuously since it was lit by Soviet petroleum engineers in 1971. It’s fed by the rich natural gas deposits in the area. The pungent smell of burning sulfur pervades the area for some distance. 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). Continue reading for a video, more pictures and additional information.
The site was identified by Soviet engineers in 1971. It was thought to be a substantial oil field site. The engineers set up a drilling rig and camp nearby, and started drilling operations to assess the quantity of gas reserve available at the site. As the Soviets were pleased with the success of finding the gas resources, they started storing the gas. The ground beneath the drilling rig and camp collapsed into a wide crater and disappeared, however no lives were lost in the incident.
Fearing further release of poisonous gases from the cavern, 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. At that time, expectations were that the gas would burn out within a few weeks, but has continued to burn more than four decades after it was set on fire.