Derweze (Turkmen language: The Gate, also known as Darvaza) is a Turkmenistan village of about 350 inhabitants, located in the middle of the Kara-Kum desert, about 260 km north from Ashgabat.
Darvaza flaming crater is one of the most apocalyptic landscapes in the world. Its 60 meters in diameter and 20 meters depth have not been caused by volcanic activity or a meteorite impact. This crater was created sometime in the 50's when the Soviets were prospecting for natural gas in this area and it's been burning since then.
The "Door to Hell"
The Derweze area is rich in natural gas. While drilling in 1971 geologists accidentally found an underground cavern filled with natural gas. The ground beneath the drilling rig collapsed, leaving a large hole with a diameter of about 50-100 meters. To avoid poisonous gas discharge, it was decided to burn the gas. Geologists had hoped the fire would go out in a few days but it has been burning ever since. Locals have named the cavern The Door to Hell.
Next to capturing the gas, flaring is safer and friendlier to the environment than releasing the methane into the atmosphere as methane is a relatively potent greenhouse gas with a high global warming potential of 72 (averaged over 20 years) or 25 (averaged over 100 years).