Turkmenistan wants to extinguish the fiery Darvaza Crater, known as The Gates of Hell

Turkmenistan, one of the most isolated countries in the world, is hoping to extinguish one of its only tourist attractions — a fiery 20-foot wide crater. The Darvaza Crater has been burning for over fifty years, with methane-fed flames reaching temperatures above 1,000 degrees Celsius. Nightmarish eyewitness accounts reported by Vice describe hordes of self-immolating spiders, drawn to its warming glow. No wonder the locals dubbed it The Gates of Hell.

Its origin cannot be verified, but is believed to have been caused when Soviet crews were drilling for natural gas, and hit a major methane pocket. The deadly gas was set alight by geologists, hoping to burn it off. Instead, they created an eternal flame with no off switch. According to an NPR report

"The spectacular if unwelcome fire that has burned ever since is so renowned that state TV showed President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov speeding around it in an off-road truck in 2019."

The crater has also attracted a stream of hardy tourists. But in late 2022 the President decided that the landmark was causing too much ecological damage, and put out a call to douse the fire. Some proposed solutions have been to plug the leak with concrete, or to detonate an explosive device, but both fixes could make the situation worse if they create another, larger fissure. So for now, it's burn, baby, burn.

See also: This website lets you simulate the effects of crater impacts anywhere on Earth