Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Door to Hell

Drilling in what was thought to be a substantial oil field in the early seventies, Soviet geologists struck a methane gas-filled subterranean cavern in the Karakum Desert. The ground beneath their drilling rig collapsed into the subsurface cavern, leaving a hole of about 70 meters in diameter.

The gas could not be safely extracted for use. To avert the hazards of the poisonous gas, the geologists decided to burn off the gas.

It was hoped the fire would consume the gas discharge in a matter of days. Incredibly it is still burning today.

Locals refer to the gaping hole in the desert as "The Door to Hell".

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble!

William Shakespeare
(From the incantation of the three witches in Shakespeare's Macbeth)