The Door to Hell: Massive Fire Pit Has Been Slowly Devouring the Earth Since the 1970s (PHOTOS)

This raging pit of fire has been burning strong, and swallowing portions of the Earth’s surface into it’s depths, since 1971 with no sign of stopping. Known as the Door to Hell, this fiery crater is surrounded by desolation in northern Turkmenistan, and has been burning continuously for four decades.

Also referred to by some as the Darvaza Crater, this surreal sight makes for a post-apocalyptic landscape in the nothingness of the desert it is slowly burning away at.

It was first sparked when a Soviet drilling rig suffered a mishap. The Soviets were drilling for oil, but instead managed to lite on fire the natural gases trapped in a bed beneath the surface. According to National Geographic, Turkmenistan has the sixth largest gas reserves in the world so there is no shortage of fuel for this constant fire pit.

The pit earned its name for the constantly burning gases, boiling mud and ever-expanding crater perimeter.

One brave explorer traversed into the pit, and successfully gathered samples that included microorganisms and small bacteria for study.

You can watch some footage from his exploration in the video below, and view the slideshow above for more pictures of the pit.