We visit Dallol, a collapsed volcano crater filled with acid ponds, poisonous chlorine and sulfur gases, inside the Danakil Depression of Ethiopia.

By Kia (Atlas & Boots) |

I wasn’t daunted at the prospect of visiting Dallol, dubbed the hottest place on Earth. Despite its temperatures regularly reaching 45°C (113°F), I knew that after visiting Erta Ale volcano in the region, Dallol would be a walk in the park – if the park was a collapsed volcano crater filled with acid ponds and geysers, poisonous chlorine and sulfur gases.

Dallol lies 116m (380ft) below sea level in the Danakil Depression of the Afar Regional Statein Ethiopia and is part of the East African Rift Valley where three continental plates are being torn apart.

Dallol itself is a dizzying riot of color created by rain and seawater from the nearby coast, heated by magma. The sea salt reacts with volcanic minerals in the magma, creating luminescent colors. In the hottest pools, sulfur and salt react to create bright yellow chimneys. In cooler pools, copper salts blend in vivid turquoise.

I had my doubts about Dallol. I thought that – like the luminescent green of the Northern Lights – the colors wouldn’t be quite as vivid to the naked eye as rendered on camera.

The fluorescent yellows and deep sea greens were surely an illusion concocted by the wide apertures and long exposures of expert photographers.

Continue reading this story at Atlas & Boots
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