Mind Bomb 25: The door to Hell at Karakum Desert

Mind Bomb 25: The door to Hell at Karakum Desert
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We are used to hear stories of weary travelers spotting an oasis in the desert - a beacon of hope that usually turns out to be a mirage.

Oases are truly magical - an isolated area of vegetation in a land of sand that is infamously harsh. But if there is an alter ego to oases, it would be "The Door to Hell".

Photo Credit: Michael J Moss

Located in the middle of the Karakum Desert, one will find an gaping hole of fire about 70 meters wide.

Photo Image Credit: Neil Melville-Kenny

The story of how the door to hell came to be is surprisingly simple - No lore. No legends. No myths. Just a straight-forward fact based story on how a decision created this international tourist destination.

In 1971, Soviet geologists set up a drilling rig and camp on a site that is rich in natural gas.

However, the ground beneath the drilling rig was too weak to support it, and soon collapsed from the weight, engulfing both the rig and the camp and leaving a hole 70 meters wide and 20 meters deep.

Photo Credit: Martha de Jong-Lantink

While no lives were lost, large quantities of methane gas were escaping into the atmosphere. This posted both as an environmental problem and a potential danger to the people of Derweze - a village of about 350 inhabitatns near the drilling site. Interestingly, Derweze is persian for the gate.

To prevent an escalation of the problem, it was decided that the remaining gas should be burned off. This was safer and more environmentally friendly than extracting the unknown amount of remaining gas in the cavern through expensive methods.

The geologists expected the gas to burn out within days, but it turned out to be a gross assumption as the cavern continued to burn till this day - over 40 years since it was lit.

Photo Credit: Tormod Sandtorv

There is a photo journey on LoveThesePics that will show you not only many more pictures of The Door to Hell but also the other experiences as one journeys to this site.