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The biggest sinkhole ever (and on fire for 40 years to boot)?

+3 votes
Jun 21, 2017 in Science & Technology ⚡ by TheOtherTink (19,337 points)

In the middle of the Karakum desert.

Maybe this is where the idea for the Pit of Carkoon came from? :ermm: :D

2 Answers

Virginia Jun 21, 2017

Someone even posted the Gate to Hell on YouTube!

TheOtherTink Virginia Jun 22, 2017

Virginia, think of all the CO2 THAT hell-hole released:O

Virginia Virginia Jun 22, 2017

O'Tink, I was unable to open the Daily Mail link but I found one, it may have been the Smithsonian...anyway, just from the methane the animals around the area were dropping dead; that is when they decided to light the hell-gate, a fairly common practice I learned, called flaring, in hopes it would burn itself out in a few weeks (almost 50 years ago now, as you know). 

This article also had a figure for the amount of natural gas wasted each day in N. (or was it S.?) Dakota each day, from flaring, when they cannot figure out a way to harvest the gas!

Well back to methane, again I have not studied but I believe methane may be one of the greenhouse gases? Anyway, methane is also found in flatulence, and I remember reading once that someone has calculated the amount of methane every day released by Iowa cattle herds...(sigh)...

* * *

btw I don't think the article said, but perhaps after they lit the hell-gate the surrounding animals don't die off any more?

TheOtherTink Virginia Jun 22, 2017

Yes, the article showed pictures similar to your YouTube clip, and it did explain that the fire was set because they feared poisonous gas was escaping (which natural gas is, of course).  However, they expected the gas to burn completely in a matter of days... instead, it's been burning for over forty years:O  And yes, methane is a greenhouse gas.

They seem to be big on ecological disasters in that region.  When the Soviets diverted the rivers that fed the Aral Sea for irrigation purposes, the sea shrank to about 10% of its former size over the next 50 years. :O

Virginia Virginia Jun 22, 2017

Other Tink, I did not know about the Aral Sea...also I learned the term endorheic lake, or outlet, in that way perhaps reminiscent of Mono Lake, not all that far from Rooster in northern California?

Anyway (you may already know?), a similar situation arose in that thirsty Los Angeles was diverting freshwater creeks that fed Mono Lake, the ecosystem was collapsing, until the Mono Lake Committee formed on the Lake's behalf and took L.A. to court...had their facts and figures down (as I recall) L.A. still does take some of the water, but enough is retained so as to maintain the integrity of Mono Lake...

* * *

I already told Marianne about this, because the calcium carbonate tufa towers that form in Mono Lake reminded me of her fairy pyramids in Switzerland! (Different formation, though...hers are glacial...) 

Oh, and btw I have also just realized that Washington has an endorheic lake! It is Omak Lake east of the Cascade Mountains, on the Colville Indian Reservation ... I spent a marvelous week camping there 2010, as I was on my way to Iowa... endorheic, endorheic, it...


TheOtherTink Virginia Jun 22, 2017

Virginia, what a remarkable lake:)

Marianne Jun 22, 2017

Oh yes, we heard about it quite often:

And talking about toxic gases, there are also natural events (not caused by human activities), like

Lake Nyos:

Lake Monoun:

(both in Cameroon) and Lake Kivu (Dem. Rep. of the Congo and Rwanda):

also "holes", i.e. pockets of magma, covered by water ...

As to the methane produced by living creatures - especially by ruminants in very large groups - I think that some will remember perhaps certain events:


Virginia Marianne Jun 22, 2017

Marianne, exploding lakes! Almost unbelievable for such a tragedy to occur...1,746 people suffocated, even more animals...from the emission of carbon dioxide by Lake Nyos? Never knew of such a happening before...

Marianne Marianne Jun 23, 2017

Yes, Virginia, it is unbelievable ...

Virginia Marianne Jun 23, 2017

:( tears

Marianne Marianne Jun 25, 2017

Yes, Virginia, it is sad.

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