Five places that never stop burning

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Given the state of the world right now, it’s safe to assume that we’ll have to deal with more and more environmental changes. On Earth there are places that never stop burning. For example, while the Australian fires of 2019 were disastrous, they too came to an end. Sometimes there are natural causes for the spontaneous fires. However, mining and drilling in places with an abundance of natural gas usually leads to this.  It’s not a surprise that human interference creates some interesting phenomena.

The Chamchamal fire well in Iraq

Originally a well dug up in 2015 to irrigate a nearby farm, the Chamchamal fire well continues to burn to this day.  It flows with methane gas, which wouldn’t be a problem if it wasn’t for the high gas pressure in that area. Excavations in the mid 20th century by British and Iraqi governments led to the disturbance of the explored ground.  The high pressure methane gas combines with boiling water from nearby springs. It is unknown what exactly started the fire that continually consumes the gas. This gives the well the appearance of fire burning over water.

The Smoking Hills in the Canadian Arctic

The Smoking Hills are located in Canada’s Northwest Territories. In the vicinity there is a small group of lakes, which contrasts with the hellish image of the hills. The hills were named by the European explorer John Franklin, who was the first one to observe them in his 1826 expeditions. They contain strata of oil shales that have been burning for possibly centuries. The fires result from the auto-ignition of the sulphur rich brown coal deposits.

Eternal Flame Falls at Orchard Park, New York

Beneath a waterfall, similarly to the Chamchamal fire well, a natural gas leak lights up in a small flame. Unlike the other two examples, this flame can’t sustain itself. That is why tourists routinely relight the gas whenever it fizzles out. It’s a special ritual that enriches one’s experience.  The natural gas comes from old shale rocks.

The site of dozens of small fires – Yanartaş, Turkey

Situated near the Olympus valley, Yanartaş is a national park in the Antalya Province of southwestern Turkey. It is the site of many small fires. As such, within Yanartaş, there are multiple places that also never stop burning.  The main site is at the top of the mountain. It’s an easy one kilometre climb. The cause of these fires is also the seep of natural gas through the cracks in rocks. The gas emissions have been burning for over 2500 years.

The Burning Mountain in Wingen, Australia

The impressive coal seam fire has been burning for about 6000 years. However, it’s done quite a lot of damage to the local ecosystem. As it’s constantly moving about one metre per year, it leaves behind a trail of destruction.  Most believe that the coal fire started from a lighting strike or wildfire. The area is a natural reserve. It’s protected by NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

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