Darvaza fire photo

The Darvaza gas crater.

Do you believe in “the End of Days” prediction? If so, could you think of possible causes that can lead to it? I can tell you the most plausible – human influence. The analogy with “moth and the flame” has never been more relevant. We are constantly forcing the fall of our civilization with our own hands. Ragnarøkr (Old Norse “Fate of the Gods” and “Twilight of the Gods”) is coming! Without “ragna” (“the ruling powers, gods”), of course. We are nothing like gods, we are less likely to survive. Before you think that I might exaggerate the matter, I want to explain what have inspired these thoughts.

Gates of Hell in the Black Sand

Have you ever heard of the place that connects human world with the Underworld? It is not a myth. The Gates to Tartarus can be found in the middle of Karakum Desert in Central Asia. This infernal attraction is officially called the Darvaza gas crater (as it is situated near the village of Derweze), and belongs to Turkmenistan. Due to the etymology of words “Karakum” and “Darvaza”, which mean “Black Sand” and “Gate” respectively, locals have dubbed it “Door to Hell” or “Gates of Hell”.

Imagine a hole in the ground as wide as a football pitch, and as deep as the height of a six-storey building, which constantly produces fire. The crater is even visible from outer space. Now you probably think that this is an ordinary volcanic crater created by Mother Nature. But you are wrong. It is man-made. People are responsible for such an abnormality.

The origin

The story began in 1971, when Soviet geologists discovered natural gas deposits in Karakum Desert. While drilling of boreholes, they have stumbled onto a cavern, which resulted in a great collapse. Luckily, nobody was hurt. Geologists decided to burn the gas off, since the fumes could be poisonous for people and animals. They thought it would burn out within a few days or weeks, but it was a mistake. Gas deposits have been so remarkable that the crater has already been burning for a half of century.

The signs of life

In 2013 George Kourounis, a famous Canadian explorer, set foot at the bottom of the crater. The result of this expedition was unpredictable, he has found some bacteria that felt comfortable in high temperatures.

The Turkmen Government does not mention this place in guidebook, but does not restrict access to it either. Now and then the president of Turkmenistan strives to close the crater, so nobody knows for how long it will be opened for tourists. That is the reason to hurry up and visit this place for those, who want to get thrilled and come as close to the edge as bravery affords.

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