The Darweze area is said to be rich in natural gas. It's discovery was in 1971, when Soviet geologists accidentally tapped into a cavern filled with natural gas. The ground beneath the drilling rig collapsed, leaving a large hole with a diameter of 70 meters (230 ft.). To avoid poisonous gas discharge, it was decided to burn it off. Geologists had hoped the fire would use all the fuel in a matter of days, but the gas is still burning up to this day. Locals have called the cavern "The Door to Hell" since then.
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 and considered to have a high global warming potential of 72 (averaged over 20 years) or 25 (averaged over 100 years).
In April 2010, the President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow visited the site and ordered that the hole should be closed, or other measures be taken to limit its influence on the development of other natural gas fields in the area.