The "Door to Hell" (also known as the Gate to Hell, the Crater of Fire, Darvaza Crater) is a natural gas field in Derweze, Turkmenistan, that collapsed into an underground cavern in 1971, becoming a natural gas crater. Geologists set it on fire to prevent the spread of methane gas, and it has been burning continuously since then. The diameter of the crater is 69 metres (226 ft), and its depth is 30 metres (98 ft).
The crater is a popular tourist attraction. In the past five years 50,000 tourists have visited the site. The gas crater has a total area of 5,350 m2, the size of an American football field. The surrounding area is also popular for wild desert camping.
The gas crater is located near the Derweze village. It is in the middle of the Karakum Desert, about 260 kilometres (160 mi) north of Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan. The gas reserve found here is one of the largest in the World. 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). The hot spots range over an area with a width of 60 metres (200 ft) and to a depth of about 20 metres (66 ft).
Effects on Future Development of Gas:
Fearing the further release of poisonous gases from the cavern, the engineers decided to burn it off. They thought 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.