Volcanic rainbow in hottest place on earth

April 15th, 2010 | by addis portal |

ADDIS ABABA: People who visit Dallol, Ethiopia certainly don’t do it for the weather: for a time the mining ghost town held the record for the hottest inhabited place on the planet, with an average year-round temperature of 94 degrees Fahrenheit. Daily heat in the region, known as the Danakil Depression, regularly climbs past 115 degrees.

But for those who brave the searing equatorial desert, amazing visual wonders await.

Dallol lies in northeastern Ethiopia close to the disputed Eritrean border. This, and the at times somewhat hostile Afar tribesmen, make the area somewhat unstable and several armed attacks on tourist convoys have occurred in recent years, somewhat hemming touristic development of the area.

Nevertheless, tourists increasingly are drawn to the springs to see the stunning yellow and red hydrothermal deposits.

Dallol’s hot springs are mostly located on a large mound that has formed due to magma pushing upward and locally lifting the over 1 kilometer (0.6 mile)-thick salt deposits. Heated by the molten rock, groundwater carries dissolved salts to the surface where the sun’s relentless heat quickly does away with moisture.

Dallol is also interesting for its mining history. Near the beginning of the last century, intrepid explorers discovered significant potash deposits at the site, which is used for fertilizer.

Much of the history of Dallol remains a mystery since hardly any records survived.

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