Message claims that attached photographs depict a gas filled crater that has been burning continually for more than 35 years
Photographs are genuine – Description may be true but is largely unsubstantiated
Subject: FW: Door To HellDoor to hellThis place in Uzbekistan is called by locals “The Door to Hell”. It is situated near the small town of Darvaz. The story of this place lasts already for 35 years. Once the geologists were drilling for gas. Then suddenly during the drilling they have found an underground cavern, it was so big that all the drilling site with all the equipment and camps got deep deep under the ground.
None dared to go down there because the cavern was filled with gas. So they ignited it so that no poisonous gas could come out of the hole, and since then, it’s burning, already for 35 years without any pause. Nobody knows how many tons of excellent gas has been burned for all those years but it just seems to be infinite there.
This message, which circulates via email, blogs and online communities, claims that these spectacular photographs show a large crater filled with natural gas that has been burning continual for three decades. Research indicates that the photographs are genuine and such a burning gas crater does exist, although concrete and verifiable details about its history and current status are somewhat elusive.
The “Door to Hell”, is indeed near the settlement of Darvaza as stated in the message. However, Darvaza is located in Turkmenistan, not Uzbekistan. Both Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are in the same region of central Asia. Turkmenistan has one of the largest gas reserves in the world.
Although, Darvaza, and Turkmenistan itself, are off the major tourist routes and tend to be visited by only the more adventurous travelers, a number of photographs of the burning gas pit have made their way onto the Internet. The photographs included above appear to be part of a series taken by John Bradley during a trip to the region in 2007. The same photographs appear in a post on EnglishRussia.com and on many other websites. Other photographs showing the pit in daylight hours are available on photo-sharing website, flickr. The following YouTube video also offers views of the burning crater:
According to this version of the message, the fire has been burning for thirty five years, implying that the accident described occurred in the 1970’s. Some sources put the date of the initial accident back to the 1950’s. Most references claim that the burning pit is the remains of a giant underground cavern that collapsed during exploration and was then purposely ignited as a means of burning off escaping gas. However, there appears to be little information available that provides a detailed description of the cavern collapse and the circumstances surrounding it. Writer and blogger Joshua Kucera notes:
One of the coolest things I did in Turkmenistan was to visit the Darvaza burning gas crater. This is in the middle of nowhere, about a three-hour drive through the desert north of Ashgabat.
It’s 60 meters in diameter and was apparently created sometime in the 50s when the Soviets were prospecting for natural gas in this area. That’s all the guidebook says, and when we got there I asked my guide for a more complete explanation. So, how exactly was this made, I asked. “It was natural,” was the answer. So, I still don’t know. If anyone has any information I’d be very grateful to hear it.
I would likewise be grateful to find out more concrete details about Darvaza’s burning pit. If you know of such details, please let me know.
Last updated: 5th November 2008
First published: 5th November 2008
By Brett M. Christensen
Importance NoticeAfter considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.
These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.
Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.
And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.
When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.
I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.
A Big Thank YouI would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.
I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.
Closing DateHoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.
Thank you, one and all!