Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Door to Hell - Burning Gas Crater in Darvaza, Turkmenistan

The Darvaza gas crater or “The Door to Hell” is a 60 meters wide and 20 meters deep hole in the heart of the hot, expansive Karakum desert in Turkmenistan, that has been on on fire for the last 38 years. But the hole is not of a natural origin. The large crater is a result of a Soviet gas exploration accident that occurred in 1971.

The Darvaza (also known as Derweze) area is rich in natural gas. While drilling in 1971, the Soviets accidentally tapped into a massive underground natural gas cavern, causing the ground to collapse and the entire drilling rig to fall in. To prevent escape of poisonous gas into the atmosphere, the geologists decided to light it on fire. They had hoped the fire would use all the fuel in a matter of days, but as it turns out, the supply of natural gas below the crater is near infinite as the crater’s been burning since.

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On a dark night, the glow of the burning hole can be seen from miles away and the smell of burning sulfur can be detected from a distance that becomes quite strong as you near the hot edge of the crater. Photo credit

Perhaps the most accurate, living representation of hell we've ever seen, flames lick up, fueled by escaping natural gas at the Darvaza gas crater.  <br /><br />We spent a remarkably peaceful night camping at the crater's edge.

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26 comments:

  1. Anyone else enjoying the irony of the Door to Hell being created by humans?

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    1. it is the disadvantage of natural gas itself! Try using renewable energy sources like biomass and solar

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    2. Stop dude, just stop

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  2. Well, created by Soviets. Not really ironic; just more Russian idiocy.

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    1. what would you do you f**king genius? gas might poison everything around and would be a danger of explosion who knew there would be so much of it

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    2. Not to mention the GHG effects of methane vs. carbon dioxide...

      There is a reason natural gas is flared when harnessing and transportation is not feasible.

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    3. Spot the Russian in this conversation

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    4. Let's just build a massive dome in the middle of the desert in 1971!? With technology that could have failed and made the hole bigger! These days it's more feasible...but back then it wasn't so simple to logistically support the movement and construction of the technologies required to harness a unique problem like this. Much like oh I dunno....BP and the oil rig disaster of not so long ago. Think about it, the drilling expedition faced a sink hole and placing a heavy steel,iron,ceramic, dome over it would have possibly collapsed the surrounding terrain, only making the issue worse, possibly exposing more of the natural gas vein.

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  3. "Near infinite"

    haha, what a silly thing to say

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  4. But actually it looks like ...drilling for gas gone wrong. Its not lava, you can clearly see dirt and fire. It seems more like a huge earth callapse because of some gas pocket. And may have been created by drilling gone bad. Instead of crude oil under the sea BP /gulf of Mexico ..more like air gas on fire.

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    1. cool where is this hole????

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    2. Morris why did you leave us hanging about the location of this pit of natural gas on fire? Do come back & share what you know so we can all see this pit you speak of! It's so selfish of you to hoard your knowledge & have possibly left the rest of the world waiting your return to this blog, knowing you shall never return, however. It's sad, really. Tear jerking!

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    3. The answer is Turkmenistan. Oh Google, my one and only friend who know's everything.

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  5. Morris wallace your a fanny. Read the article it Clearly states the cause!! Fanny!!

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  6. why can't they tap into this energy? And could someone tell me what the impact is to the environment (ozone) of this thing burning for 40 years?? Hows the carbon foot print on this?

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  7. Unknown, that is what the president of Turkmenistan has in mind: http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/04/20/us-turkmenistan-crater-odd-idUSTRE63J4H120100420.
    This is a very extreme example of a shallow gas hazard. Trying to exploit it is difficult because the reservoir is so close to surface that the rock isn't strong enough to cope with the stresses imposed by high volume gas flow and is prone to collpase or fracture; regardless of how strong the drilled and cased well is, there is a very real risk of gas flowing to surface outside the well (via fractures in the rock) and thus outside of the control of the drilling or production operation.
    Normal shallow gas pockets are small (again, because the rock is not generally strong enough to detain a large accumulation of gas) and in the case where a rig drills into a shallow gas pocket and is unable to control the flow, the gas will normally be depleted after a few days.
    The door to hell is a very freakish exception, but there are other (less spectacular) examples of gas venting at surface which have one way or another been ignited, there are burning hills and a temple in Azerbaijan which was erected around such a natural flare (long before evil 'big oil' existed to exploit natural gas) which now is supplied by gas pipeline since the natural gas reservoir has been depleted http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ateshgah_of_Baku, http://www.azernews.az/azerbaijan/47932.html

    As far as the environmental impact is, ozone is not affected by natural hydrocarbons or carbon dixide, the loss of ozone above Antarctica was caused by Chloro-fluorocarbons once in widespread use as refrigerant and propellant in cans of aerosol spray (such as insect killer and hairspray) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chlorofluorocarbon, http://www.epa.gov/ozone/science/ods/classone.html
    If scare talk of gullible warming keeps you awake at night, take solace in knowing that CO2 is a less potent IR absorber than CH4, so burning the natural gas that vents from the ground has a lesser imagined climate impact than simply allowing it to vent and in addition poses less of a danger to wildlife in the immediate vicinity.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for posting this. its nice to see comments from people who do their research first.

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  8. But what are the environmental impacts?

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    Replies
    1. Its warmer in the hole and gets cooler as you get farther away

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  9. It's a fucking hole on fire!!! Relax ppl the cracken is not goin to rise from it

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  10. THE DEVIL HAS COME OUT. THAT IS WHY THE WORLD IS SO CRAZY

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  11. I dont understand why they cant put it out!? Cant they smother it? What a waste!!

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  12. Actually, one of the disadvantages of the natural gas is the gas mining. Gas mining makes large holes or craters on earth and the people who made it aren't responsible for it. Door to hell shows the irresponsibility of the miner itself. Try using renewable energy sources like biomass and geothermal. Sincerely, anonymous

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  13. Can't we use carbon dioxide to extinguish it?

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    1. How do you expect to contain the necessary amount of CO2 in the hole. Even if fire was extinguished, the free CH4 is more dangerous than burning it off.

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