The Gates of Hell in Turkmenistan

Yesterday, I complained about the heat in Arizona. Today I get a note from my son who is backpacking through central Asia. He’s seen the Gates of Hell in Turkmenistan. He was in Darvaza, in the Karakorum Desert and saw the fire pit.

In 1971, a drilling rig looking for oil found natural gas instead. The entire rig, drills, trucks and people suddenly sunk into a giant sink hole. The hole was part of a cavern that was bottomless and filled with gas. To prevent the entire area from destruction, the remaining crew set the pit on fire.

It’s been burning for 37 years, adding even more heat to the Turkmenistan desert. In the daytime, it’s a crater in the flat and seamless desert. At night, the fire in the pit can be seen for miles. The photo below is by John H. Bailey, who is a photographer, and not my son.

Gates of Hell

Gates of Hell

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19 responses to “The Gates of Hell in Turkmenistan

  1. Explosives are used to put out oil well fires. There are lots of great videos of this online.

    I think we should get several dozen of the largest conventional bombs available and drop them into the hole. worst case, it throws some dirt into the air but does nothing.

    It seems that this would an easy and inexpensive way to try and put it out. I think you could dump tons of water per minute into the hole and have nothing happen.

    I am not sure if anyone mentioned this, but go Google “Centralia, Pennsylvania” and the underground coal fire.

    • It’s not an oil fire, Nick, it’s a gas fire. And we can’t just drop bombs in gas fires to see what happens. It’s also completely different than the various underground coal, dump, or tire-factory fires.

  2. is the hole in the ozone layer above the earth over this area called the gates of hell? i indeed wonder if after 38 years of burning heat and escaped gas (because the size of the hole a lot of gas must have escaped) it hasn’t contributed significantly to the demise of the ozone layer, which is causing global warming, melting glaciers, and all other derivatives.

    • it sure would have produced a lot of heat and the byproduct of burning natural gas include methane and carbon dioxide, and it significantly adds to air pollution. It’s been burning so long, I’m amazed no one has tried to eliminate it.

  3. i think a fence would ruin the beauty of it. it’s not the gates of hell though i wouldn’t say. because hell isn’t on or inside earth, so i geuss that’s just impossible (and i do understand that gates of hell isn’t taken literally to most, but to others, quite obviously it is lol). And what a dope the guy is that said a microphone was lowered into it, duh, it would burn straight away haha, as would a thermometer right? anyways, beautiful thing i’d say. keep it as it is, only someone suicidal would need a gate round it, it’s clearly something we shouldn’t stand on the edge of lol.

    • The title is figurative, not literal. And you know I didn’t name it, right? And it is possible to lower special microphones into it. No lol necessary.

      • Are we fearful of the thought that there is indeed a place of torment referred to as “hell”? I also heard the story of the microphone lowered into the abyss or whatever and there were screams and wailing sounds coming from the depths! I think it is easier to try to allay all fears of such things by denials or unbelief, but what if it’s true? then my friend our fears would have just begun because we could not wish it away! I believe there’s a hell just as i believe in the heavens above!

        • You can have your own fantasies, but you can’t have your own facts. The thing is a gas pit, and the sound you hear is burning gas hissing, no human screaming. And while it has the name “gates of hell” it’s descriptive, not realistic.

  4. no safety fence, lol

  5. It is very frightening that the natural resource is being burnt for 38 years because of the mistake of people of science not politics. This is the most massive contribution in the global warming and I urge the government to act urgently to stop the fire. I appeal the people also to be active in this global problem.

  6. There’s a Gates of Hell in New Jersey too (yeah, yeah, I know), but it’s nowhere near as fiery as this spot.

  7. Years ago I heard an evangelist (with a straight face) tell his hearers that in Russia workers drilling for oil discovered Hell! They lowered a thermometer into the hole they had just drilled,and it registered off the charts. They also lowered a microphone down into it, and it picked up the screams of evidently damned souls. He didn’t bother to explain why they lowered a microphone into an oil hole in the first place. Sigh.

    ——> You meet the most interesting people, Michael. I hope it fuels your sense of humor and doesn’t squash your faith in humanity. -Q

  8. How very fascinating!! Thank you for sharing.

  9. It reminds me of the pit of fire Frodo throws the ring into. A stunning photo!

    —> It does look like that, doesn’t it?

  10. I’m terrible with people and their names.. very embarrasing too ;)

    —> Another thing to try to improve, I guess. -Q

  11. Ok, I looked it up and Daravaza is in Turkmenistan and then Turkmenistan is not that far from Tadjikistan.

    —> I get the names confused, as did one of the sites I used for research. I’m bad with people’s names, too. And to my everlasting embarrassment, I have to make sure I don’t get the states of Iowa and Idaho mixed up. I know where they are on the map, and I know the shapes, but the names just switch in my mind. The only comfort is that I’ve been doing it since I was a kid, so it’s not just creeping age.
    -Q

  12. Tajikistan or Turkmenistan?

    —–> The gates of hell is in Turkmenistan. One of the sites I checked out said Tajikistan, and I actually get them confused. Someone pointed out the mistake to me, and I corrected the post. –Q

  13. How fascinating and frightening at the very same time.

    I had never heard about this phenomenon in the Tadj. desert and the accident in 1971.
    What do we know about Tadjikistan anyway?

    Your son is experiencing a very interesting journey!

    –My son is having a good time. When he told me about this, I was fascinated. It’s amazing. -Q

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