Dallol, Ethiopia: Facts about one of the hottest places on Earth

Photos logoPhotos 21/06/2018 21:30:00

© Homo Cosmicos/Getty Images The Dallol region of Ethiopia is a cauldron of burning salt, volcanic rock and sulfuric acid and is officially one of the hottest places on the planet.

© Guenterguni/Getty Images Dallol is located in northern Ethiopia, on the border with Eritrea, and inside a geological formation called the Afar (Danakil) Depression. Also called the Afar Triangle, this area is part of the Great Rift Valley in East Africa.

© Davor Lovincic/Getty Images The average annual temperature in Dallol is 93.9°F (34.4°C), with the mercury hitting highs of 116.1°F (46.7°C) in summer. Don't count on rainfall to bring those numbers down - it only receives a maximum 200mm every year. Worse, it is also one of the lowest places on Earth - at 410 ft (125m) below sea level.

Danakil Colors © nikpal/Getty ImagesDanakil Colors In addition to the frighteningly high temperatures, there is also a volcano and hydro-thermal field in the area. The latter is located in a remote northern section of the Afar Depression and is the world's lowest sub-volcanic area.

© Homo Cosmicos/Getty Images According to the country's Central Statistical Agency, while the Dallol region (called 'woreda' - a third-level administrative unit) held a population of 83,930 in 2007, Dallol town itself is believed to be a ghost town.

© Stephan Gladieu/Getty images The many hot springs in the area are one reason why the Dallol landscape is visually striking. These springs release chemical compounds like ferrous chloride and iron hydroxide that solidify when they come into contact with the atmosphere, painting the salt deposits and lakes in bizarre shades of green, yellow and white. What little reserves of water can be found are unsafe for human consumption - the waters are toxic.

© Frizi/Getty Images The combination of salt flats, weird geologic formations and high temperatures, coupled with the remoteness of the region, paints a picture of an alien landscape.

© Tom Pfeiffer/Barcroft Media/Getty Images Dallol is also a home to Erta Ale - a basaltic shield volcano, which is one of Ethiopia's most active. The volcano is fed by at least two active lava lakes beneath the surface, one of which has been bubbling over since the mid-1960s, according to the Smithsonian Institution.

© Lukas Bischoff/Getty Images Erta Ale means 'smoking mountain' in the Afar language and is one of only few in the world to have an active lava lake at the summit.

© Lukas Bischoff/Getty Images Geothermal activity inside the volcanic crater, and the interaction between volcanic minerals and the salt in the water, raises the temperature in the immediate area to over 200°F (100°C).

© Stocktrek Images/Richard Roscoe/Getty Images However, despite the violent and inhospitable conditions of the Dallol region, scientists believe samples collected from the hot springs and pools could provide clues about the earliest forms of life - microbes.

© HomoCosmicos/Getty Images According to the BBC, in March 2017, a group of scientists representing a consortium of research institutions, actually found and extracted DNA from bacteria found in both the salt springs and in Danakil volcanic crater.

© Frizi/Getty Images The Afar people, who live in the area today, rely on camels for transportation, as roads are non-existent. They are a nomadic people, mining the salt flats for the precious substance which is loaded onto camel trains and taken to the market at Mek'ele, the nearest town.

© Stocktrek Images/Richard Roscoe/Getty Images Nearly 100 percent of Ethiopia's salt requirement is supplied by the Afar people and these salt fields.

© Frizi/Getty Images Despite the harsh and unforgiving climate of the area, the Afar people have managed to carve out a place for themselves, helped largely by the Awash River. One of the largest in the country, the river gets absorbed into salt lakes in the Danakil Plain.

© Eric Lafforgue/Art in All of Us/Corbis via Getty Images Dallol has one more claim to fame - it was here, in the Danakil Depression in 1974, that Donald Johnson found Lucy, an early human fossil that was later confirmed as the first of a new species - Australopithecus afarensis.

Danakil Depression, Ethiopia © Mike Korostelev/Getty ImagesDanakil Depression, Ethiopia In 2012, Dallol witnessed violence of a different sort. Terrorists attacked a group of tourists, killing five people.

© Davor Lovincic/Getty Images A soldier with Kalashnikov stands guard as a group of tourists enjoy the spectacular Dallol landscape.

© Marc Guitard/Getty Images A view of numerous acidic geysers, whose eruption results in impossibly multicolored rock formations.

22. kesäkuuta 2018 0:30:00 Categories: Photos

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