Knocking on the ‘Door to Hell’ (thanks blf):
Turmekistan, one of the Turkic states in Central Asia, is home to a gaping wound in Mother Earth. Actually, it’s a huge crater with a gooey molten center. You know, like lava cakes! More seriously, the hole is a molten crater known as the Darvasa Crater (its nickname is the ‘Door to hell’). It has been burning for over 40 years.
The origin of Turkmenistan’s Darvaza Crater – nicknamed the “door to hell” – is disputed, but the theory most widely accepted involves a Soviet expedition to explore for gas.
A Turkmen geologist claims the borehole was set alight in 1971 after fears it was emitting poisonous gases. It has now been burning for 40 years.
Recently, a Canadian explorer by the name of George Kourounis became the first known person to descend into the pit to collect soil samples to see if life could exist in such a climate. Turns out there was bacteria down there. That could apparently help inform the search for life outside our solar system. Cool!