Dalol – colored Lakes
Dallol is an ancient collapsed volcano that shows all its beauty emerging from the Salt Plains in the heart of Danakil depression. The hundreds of small geysers constantly active, release minerals which, once deposited, create a landscape made of surreal psychedelic colors and shapes. A real hell on earth for the presence of acid or toxic lakes, for the heat, and for the vapors of sulfur that makes often difficult to breath. An absolutely unbearable hell, but at the same time, so fascinating like the last paradise on Earth.
A tour to Dallol in the heart of the Danakil depression, lets to discover a unique geological wonder in the world: a collapsed volcano lying 80 meters below sea level, which, due to its elevation, should be really hidden under some sea. Instead, as the Danakil desert is inside one of the deepest depressions of the world, the volcano emerges from the ground in all its glory, offering a show looking like more “Alice in Wonderland” rather than a real place.
What is impressive is not just the incredible colors and surreal shapes, but also how Dallol is different from the surrounding sand and dust, typical of the Danakil depression in northeastern Ethiopia.
A journey to Dallol in the Danakil depression is an extraordinary experience, as Dallol is a place of extremes for excellence. The Pictures of Dallol are the Garden of Demons, an alien world made of acidic hot springs and geysers, mineral formations and multicolored pools of acid bounded salt by frames. You would naturally associate them with corals, sponges or fragments of ancient amphora coming from a wreck. But none of this: these amazing formations are “just” the result of a slow and patient work of nature, due to geysers and fumaroles depositing sulfur and other minerals.
Located in the Danakil Depression (or Afar Depression) in the Afar Region of northeastern Ethiopia, Erta Ale is one of the driest, lowest, and hottest places on Earth. Temperatures during the year range from 77 degrees Fahrenheit to 118 degrees Fahrenheit. The area is beset by drought, bereft of trees, and has little in the way of roads.
Known by the Afar as the “smoking mountain” and “the gateway to hell,” Erta Ale is a 2,011-foot-high constantly active basaltic shield volcano. It is one of only a handful of continuously active volcanos in the world, and a member of an even more exclusive group: volcanos with lava lakes. While there are only five known volcanos with lava lakes globally, Erta Ale often has two active lava lakes, making it a unique site.
Beneath the ground surrounding Erta Ale is an enormous pool of active magma. The lake goes through cycles and will cool, form a black layer on top, and then suddenly convect back into liquid lava. Occasionally, due to pressure, “fountains” of lava will form, spewing lava in 6- to 13-foot-high plumes.
The volcano itself has erupted in 1873, 1903, 1940, 1960, 1967, and 2005, when it killed hundreds of livestock and forced thousands to flee. In 2007 lava flows once again forced evacuation. Two people went missing and were presumably killed.
Despite the harsh conditions, danger of volcanic eruption, and extreme heat, Erta Ale has become something of a tourist destination recently.