Inhabited by nearly 300 Afar nomads, the Afar depression’s evolution was as extraordinary event as accounted by scientists. Also known as Danakil depression, the depression is triangular shaped and is found descending 120 kilometers below the sea level. Being a part of the Great Rift Valley, the Afar Depression includes Danakil desert and Africa’s lowest point. Considered a hyperactive region throughout the year, the depression appears frozen from the sky above. But in reality, the depression hoards nearly 12 active volcanoes beneath its surface. Some of the world’s oldest human fossils come from this region. The Danakil Depression is hot all though the year with temperature ranging from 146 degree Fahrenheit to 148 degree Fahrenheit.
The Afar Depression has a wealth of resources in potash and salt. Potash mining began in 1918 and has attracted miners from different parts of the world. The mined salt is transported to Ethiopia for trading. Despite its natural resources, the Afar region is hostile. The primary reason behind the hostility is the political wars between Ethiopia and the neighboring state of Eritrea. During spring season, thermophile bacteria along with other minerals impart a natural golden yellow glow to the depression. Erta Ale, one of world’s active volcanoes inhabits the Afar Plain.
The year 2005 witnessed the birth of the Afar Depression. Viewed by thousands on northern Ethiopians, the depression was formed when Erta Ale erupted leaving a triangle shaped crater overlapping the entire Afar region. Since its formation, the depression has preyed on many living organisms, beginning with cattle’s, goats and camels. Since then, the region has been plagued by low density tremors every now and then. Further, the depression is of low elevation allowing floods to enter. The Red Sea has consistently flooded the depression for years now. The Danakil Desert is inhabited by shrubs, grasses and drought resistant plants. The wildlife comprises of camels, wild ass, zebra and ostrich. The wild lives are herbivores and camel is the major transport for carrying both humans and goods.
Salt export is the primary source of income for the Afar nomads. Despite the scorching temperature, the nomads have inhabited the land since 2005. For scientists and geologists, the Afar Depression is a natural wonder. Nowhere on earth can one see a volcano transform to a seafloor. Scientists believe that in the years to come, the Afar Depression will become the birthplace of a new sea.