DALLOL – Hottest place on Earth

By Devaa Ramalingam – Art in Tanzania intern

In the north- eastern parts of Ethiopia there is an alien landscape that is home to the hottest plays on earth. Getting to such place requires an expedition team with jeeps, camels, and lots of water. It is situated around a cinder cone volcano in the Danakil dessert. The Dallol hot springs are one of kind, abandoned settlements can be found in the outskirts. 

It holds the record for the highest temperature for an inhabitable place. In 1966 it averaged 95F or 35C, during this time the temperature would reach up to 120 or 150 degrees. Not only being the hottest places on the planet it’s also one the most remote, paved roads are being put in by villagers, but jeeps and camel caravans are essential and are used today to collect and transport salt from the area. 

When it comes to salt mining, the locals have had a unique adaptation to their bodies that allows them to work through the heat yet keep cool. They look for cracks in the ground which will chip away with an axe like tool that will further split the ground. Once a defined crack opens the workers will put multiple sticks in the whole and start jumping up and down to pop the salt block out of the earth.

A long time ago when the oceans were much higher and the whole area was flooded with water. As the water disappeared it left a large crust of salt-which explains the salt across the dessert. But what about fresh bubbling boiling salts that emerge from the hot spring for which Dallol is known for. As the salty waters from the red sea is pushed up through the surface of the rock by the volcanic pressure below, resulting in this alien landscape we see today. 

The pools of water may look tempting in the scorching sun, but they are concentrated pools of acid. These are identified by yellow color. Most of the acid pools here are sulphuric acid. The consequences of falling into any one of these pools are instantaneous burns.

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