Gates of Hell to be Sealed

Natural History
Gates of Hell, Turkmenistan. Photo: Shutterstock

President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov of Turkmenistan has delivered some bittersweet news. Turkmenistan plans to seal the iconic, and accidental, Darvaza gas crater.

Affectionately known as the “Gates of Hell”, the Soviets created the 20m deep hole in the 1970s. Soviet scientists reportedly lit the gas leaks in the pit to stop the gas from spreading. It has been burning ever since, emitting millions of tonnes of methane into the atmosphere. The Turkmen President’s main concern is the health and safety of nearby residents, the environmental impact is another, and it affects the economy. 

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. Photo: Shutterstock

Better to export the natural gas produced

Turkmenistan’s economy is heavily reliant on natural gas and less so on tourism, despite the sector showing some promise because of the crater’s popularity. President Berdymukhamedov believes Turkmenistan should focus on processing the gas to export overseas.

This isn’t the first time the Turkmen president proposed sealing the crater. He has been championing this suggestion since 2010 but has taken no serious action. Now, he is calling on experts to find an effective solution. 

The crater releases millions of tonnes of methane into the atmosphere. Photo: Antonin Vinter/Shutterstock

Clearly, the crater has an environmental impact and its closure is a logical choice. Despite this, we’ll be sad to see it go. The sight had become something of a tourist sensation. Visitors venture to the region to explore the “Gates of Hell” and the surrounding desert. Astrobiologists have used it to study extremophiles, which potentially simulate life on other planets. And of course, it’s a spectacular sight.

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About the Author

Kristine De Abreu

Kristine De Abreu

Kristine De Abreu is a writer (and occasional photographer) based in sunny Trinidad and Tobago.

Since graduating from the University of Leicester with a BA in English and History, she has pursued a full-time writing career, exploring multiple niches before settling on travel and exploration. While studying for an additional diploma in travel journalism with the British College of Journalism, she began writing for ExWeb.

Currently, she works at a travel magazine in Trinidad as an editorial assistant and is also ExWeb's Weird Wonder Woman, reporting on the world's natural oddities as well as general stories from the world of exploration.

Although she isn't a climber (yet!), she hikes in the bush, has been known to make friends with iguanas and quote the Lord of the Rings trilogy from start to finish.

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Peter Flynn
Peter Flynn
14 days ago

This crater can not release methane as it is highly flammable and is definitely burned up before it can go anywhere.

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max muster
max muster
14 days ago
Reply to  Peter Flynn

and what happens to methane when it encounters a flame?

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Manu
Manu
13 days ago
Reply to  max muster

Arde, explota, se quema y libera energía contaminante a la atmósfera.

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Tara
Tara
13 days ago
Reply to  max muster

CO2 and H2O

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