Erta ale and Dallol

dallolOne of the most adventurous trips in Ethiopia is the hottest place on earth called Denakil Depression. Life –time experience despite rough conditions; although the condition of the environment is not comfortable, the discomfort will be insignificant when compared to this unique experience of a life time, that only Ethiopia can offer you.

The journey to visit the Danakil Depression is long, hot, and rough, hence the adventurous traveler must be adequately prepared for the unrelenting high temperature that can have an enervating effect unless one is well planning and organized. It can be combined with a tour to the North, though only during the cool months from October to February. For those wanting an amazing and unique experience, the Danakil Depression and surrounding landscape is undoubtedly a once in a lifetime journey.

Dallol volcano is located in the Danakil Depression in NE Ethiopia, in a remote area subject to the highest average temperatures on the planet. The volcano encompasses Dallol mountain (which rises 50-60m above the surrounding salt plains and has approximate dimensions of 1.5 x 3 km) and several other features in the vicinity, such as the 1926 erta_alecrater near the “Black Mountain” about 1.5 km to the SW. Dallol is nested on top of an at least 1000m thick layer of quaternary evaporates including large potash (potassium salt) reserves, the source of which will be discussed in more detail below. Dallol Mountain is thought to have been formed as the result of intrusion of a basaltic magma body underneath. The circular depression near the center of Dallol Mountain is presumably a collapse crater, although neither its age nor the exact process from which it resulted is known. The SW flank of Dallol Mountain harbors impressive salt canyons formed by erosion processes.

The 1926 phreatic eruption formed a 30m wide crater and was the last significant event at Dallol. Currently, activity is in the form of hot brine springs. Salts washed out of the underlying layers are transported to the surface by geothermal heated water and rapidly crystallize as the water evaporates. The characteristic white, yellow and red coolers are the result of Sulfur and potassium salts colored by various ions. The terminology Dallol is often used to define an even larger area, which may cause confusion as to the location of mining operations in the area.