The escaping methane gas was ignited to avoid health consequences, since the CO2 produced during combustion is more environmentally friendly. At that time, in 1971, scientists assumed that the crater would burn out after a few days. But it is still burning today. Apparently, there are connections, so-called vents, to the depths through which methane continues to flow in small quantities to the surface.
With today’s technology, it would probably be possible to close the crater. However, this would be very expensive and Turkmenistan is slowly recognizing the crater’s tourist value – even if the country, with just under 20,000 tourists per year, is certainly not yet one of the top Instagram hotspots 😉 There are even plans to build a glass viewing platform over the crater.
For me, the “Gate to Hell” is one of the most exciting and impressive places on our wonderful Earth, not least because of the absolutely incredible starry sky and a landscape illuminated by the gas, which made me dream of being an astronaut on the planet Mars.