Dallol Dec 2010: the grand salt lake (Lake Assale)

Sunrise over the salt lake. (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer)
Sunrise over the salt lake. (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer) [info]
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Sunrise over the great salt lake Assale near Dallol (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer)
Sunrise over the great salt lake Assale near Dallol (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer) [info]
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The dried crust of the salt lake Assale in the northn Danakil depression in Ethiopia near the Eritrean boundary. The salt here is several kilometers thick and the result of larg-scale evaporation of sea water when the area now lying at 130 m below sea level had access to the Red Sea. The deep trench, or graben, where the lake is located was formed by giant tectonic forces ripping Africa apart along the Rift Valley. (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer)
The dried crust of the salt lake Assale in the northn Danakil depression in Ethiopia near the Eritre... [info]
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dallol_i41221.jpg (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer)
dallol_i41221.jpg (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer) [info]
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dallol_i41219.jpg (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer)
dallol_i41219.jpg (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer) [info]
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The endless expanse of the great salt plain Lake Assale located at 130 m below sea level in the northern Danakil depression near the Eritrean border. The surface crust forms hexagonal plates caused by evaporation and distribution of tension while the crust dries out. In this area, the salt deposit is several kilometers thick and tells about the tectonic force that rips Africa apart in this area, creating a deep trench, where sea water has invaded in the past and evaporated, leaving salt deposits behind. (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer)
The endless expanse of the great salt plain Lake Assale located at 130 m below sea level in the nort... [info]
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dallol_i41711.jpg (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer)
dallol_i41711.jpg (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer) [info]
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dallol_i41577.jpg (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer)
dallol_i41577.jpg (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer) [info]
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dallol_i41541.jpg (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer)
dallol_i41541.jpg (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer) [info]
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The current site of the salt works on the salt lake. Hundreds of workers, camels and donkeys crowd in the area, but despite the seemingly chaos, the works are very well organized, and follow strict ancient rules defined by the tradition of the Afar tribe who own the precious salt. (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer)
The current site of the salt works on the salt lake. Hundreds of workers, camels and donkeys crowd i... [info]
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Camel caravan walking over the salt lake towards the mining area. (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer)
Camel caravan walking over the salt lake towards the mining area. (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer) [info]
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Camels walking to the salt mining area and are reflected on the wet surface of the salt lake Assale. (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer)
Camels walking to the salt mining area and are reflected on the wet surface of the salt lake Assale.... [info]
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Recently, donkeys are increasingly replacing the traditional camels in the salt trade of the Danakil. A donkey caravan travels over the salt lake to soon reach the working area where they will be loaded with salt blocks and later return, taking on the long journey back into the highlands, where the salt will be sold. (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer)
Recently, donkeys are increasingly replacing the traditional camels in the salt trade of the Danakil... [info]
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Since early dawn, Afar and Tigrian workers have been present at the current working site on the salt lake. They break the hard crust, then shape pieces into neatly cut salt blocks. This hard work has been unchanged since Biblical times.  (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer)
Since early dawn, Afar and Tigrian workers have been present at the current working site on the salt... [info]
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An Afar salt cutter taking a rest from the hard work shaping the salt crust into regular and always equal blocks... (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer)
An Afar salt cutter taking a rest from the hard work shaping the salt crust into regular and always ... [info]
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First the salt is broken with axes and levers, and then different workers shape it into regular blocks to be loaded on to the camels. (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer)
First the salt is broken with axes and levers, and then different workers shape it into regular bloc... [info]
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A camel caravan returns from the salt plain, loaded with precious blocks of salt. Ahead lies a gruelling march to the highlands more than 2000 m higher, where the salt is being sold. (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer)
A camel caravan returns from the salt plain, loaded with precious blocks of salt. Ahead lies a gruel... [info]
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Camels waking back from Lake Assale, loaded with salt. A brief rest waits in Ahmed Ela, but then the arduous journey continues into the highlands. It will take several days before the salt reaches its destination at markets in the towns high above the desert. (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer)
Camels waking back from Lake Assale, loaded with salt. A brief rest waits in Ahmed Ela, but then the... [info]
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eth_i40970.jpg (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer)
eth_i40970.jpg (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer) [info]
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eth_i40977.jpg (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer)
eth_i40977.jpg (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer) [info]
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eth_i40978.jpg (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer)
eth_i40978.jpg (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer) [info]
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Camels and donkeys return from Lake Assale, loaded with salt. Only a brief stop is done in Ahmed Ela to pay the salt tax, but then the arduous journey continues into the highlands. It will take several days before the salt reaches its destination at markets in the towns high above the desert. (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer)
Camels and donkeys return from Lake Assale, loaded with salt. Only a brief stop is done in Ahmed Ela... [info]
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eth_i41027.jpg (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer)
eth_i41027.jpg (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer) [info]
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The sun rises over the great salt lake in the northern Danakil desert, at 130 m below sea level, Africa's lowest point. The purple and orange sky is reflected in patches of water covering  hexagonal pieces of salt crust. The lake or salt plain consists of kilometer thick salt sediments that have accumulated over thousands of years in the lowest point of the Rift Valley. They are the result of intense evaporation when the area had been invaded by sea water from the Red Sea. The salt reaches about 4 km maximum thickness.
In the background, silhouettes of workers are seen cutting salt blocks out of the crust of the lake. (Photo: Tom Pfeiffer)
The sun rises over the great salt lake in the northern Danakil desert, at 130 m below sea level, Afr... [info]
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