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12

t r a v e l i n g

Not depressing, but a highlight

We are now truly in the middle of the

Afar Triangle, or

Danakil Depression

, the hottest and most arid place on

the planet, or as the locals call it: 'the gates of hell'. For

information: in geology, a depression is a land-form that

is lower than the surrounding area. In the Afar Triangle,

three tectonic plates come together: the Nubian, Somali

and Arabic Plate. At a rate of 1 to 2 centimetres a year,

they are slowly moving apart. Those few centimetres may

seem insignificant, but they cause many earthquakes and

volcanic eruptions. However, all that underground rumble

is also the cause of the most spectacular and fascinating

landscape on earth: the geothermal area of

Dallol

.

This is the only volcano that is more than a hundred feet

below sea level, but not underwater. Due to the volcanic

activity, boiling hot water reaches the surface and forms

the most bizarre deposits. Jagged salt crystals, stran-

gely rippled lumps of basalt and honeycomb-shaped water