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Danakil expedition Nov 2015 - Dallol photos by Jim Keir)

Selection of photographs taken on the 23rd of November 2015 during our first Danakil volcano expedition of this winter season! Image credits to Jim Keir, who participated on this tour and kindly shared these images with us. (Jim´s Ethiopia 2015 gallery)

It seems that this phenomenal hydrothermal system is increasingly becoming drier (more shades of yellow-orange-brown and less green colours) in comparison to the photographs taken in December 2010 following a particularly rainy period. What could be causing this gradual ´´dehydration´´ of the Dallol hot springs?

Despite the fact there are currently 3 companies which will be extracting groundwater for the mining of potash from the local salts (used as fertiliser), neither one of them has actually started the production phase of their mining activities. So it is unlikely that they are the (main) reason for the slowly drying out of the Dallol hydrothermal field. A conversation with the chief of the local Afar village of Hamadela, discussing the influence of growing tourist numbers on his people and their ways of living, brought to light the area´s staggering drought problem. Whereas 18 months is the longest time span within his life (ca 45 years) over which there was no rain falling in the Dallol area, there has now been no rain for over 50 months... The fact that the only influx of water over the past 4 years has been rain run-off from the surrounding plateaus into the Dallol depression, instead of locally falling rain, therefore seems to be a more likely cause. After all, the colourful Dallol hotsprings have only been regularly visited and photographed over the past decade, so not a lot is known about the hydrothermal system´s long term life cycles and changes. Careful monitoring will hopefully result in a better understanding of this hydrothermal system so that it can be preserved as well as possible for future generations.
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Salt formations at Dallol (Photo: jimkeir)
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Yellow salt springs at Dallol, Ethiopia (Photo: jimkeir)
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Green salt ponds at Dallol, Ethiopia (Photo: jimkeir)
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"Black mountain", a small salt dome of dark, mud-containing salt near Dallol, Ethiopia (Photo: jimkeir)
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