Ethiopia

Volcano: Erta Ale, Dallol

   27th of January to 2nd February 2011  

 R.Roscoe,  M.Rietze,  Marco Fulle,  Th.Boeckel

in deutsch

 Cinema

Erta Ale, Dallol, by Th. Boeckel Cinema Erta Ale, Dallol, by Th. BoeckelErta Ale, Dallol, by Th. BoeckelErta Ale, Dallol, by Th. Boeckel


Way into the Danakil Depression

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Incessantly downhill the new street from Mekele took us into the Danakil desert. By entering the arid zone not only the flora did increased rapidly, also our tire pressure said good-bye. But this problem was fixed very fast and we headed toward Amedale.

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel     Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel     Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

A rare sight: The Danakil dessert under water. Even our driver who visited this area for years could not remember himself, about such a covering dimension of water. Preceded strong rainfalls in the mountain regions led the water into the salt plain. Thus the entire open salt mining stood nearly completely under water (ca.10-20cm). But this special circumstance didn’t detained the workers from their laborious activity. 

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel     Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel     Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel   

In the further process we thwarted again drier areas. During the passage we were involved into a marvellous salt-mud battle. Well, our vehicles grubbed themselves through the slimy underground and reached at the end the droughty base of the Dallol volcano lain somewhat more highly.    

   Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel     Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Colors of Dallol Volcano

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel   

 Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel     Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Nowadays the visit of the Dallol area is only possible with an accompaniment by the Ethiopian military. One reason was, that three years before a French jeep was attacked and fired by’dessert pirates'. Now the government reacted with the counteraction, to accompany the visitors with armed soldiers. This military support enfold four well armed soldiers which appeared very friendly and obliging. Since this escort is existing no attacks are known, and compared to 2008 my safety feeling increased substantially.

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011, by Th. boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011, by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011, by Th. Boeckel

At the surface swimming crystallization lenses. Largest geyser body (3m)

The most coloured landscape on our globe is in the midst of the Danakil depression (-120m under the sea level) close to the Eritrean border.“Normal” colours are rare and you nearly guess that the neon colour was quite invented here. The colour of geysers and lakes remembers partial to a stage of a Techno-Party. The most unusual geothermal zone of the earth mixes here poison-green with water-blue, yellow lenses and crystallized flanks, snow-white mini geysers which appear multicoloured. The iron gives the red rusty patina, and the sight of the bizarre shaped sinter terraces is supplemented acoustically by innumerably small gurgling mini geysers.

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

 Poison-green

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011, by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011, by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011, by Th. Boeckel

Right up: Natural colour separation. On the right a rusty colored pool may, enriched with iron. Whether a mineral or a biologic reason gives this pools the poison green colour is really still controversy. The deposition products contains different potash salts and sulphur which were pumped up with 50-70C° to the surface. A very high geothermal energy potential must be the condition, because the anhydrite enriched brine must raise between a layer of apprx.1000m.

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011, by Th. Boeckel     Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel     Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel  

World famous became this place because of the invention of the donut form. It is hard to retrace who carried out this spectacular styling to the rest of the world! A possible reason was maybe a pre-Christian oral tradition and sometimes you wonder yourself how thinks can happen like this.

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel     Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel     Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel     Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel     Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

The for instance 4-5km² large area which nearly rises approx. 50m inconspicuously up from the salt desert. 1926 the area was afflicted by a mini eruption. Further breakouts were not registered till now and since this date the volcanic activity at this fantastic place is an alternating geyser activity.

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel     Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel     Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Dallol 2011, Boeckel 

By leaving the area nevertheless a smaller incident occurred. Richard a 150% Dallol fan didn't want to leave the geyser field partout. Only with the intervention of the Ethiopian military the forced return ended successful. Respect from here to the courageous soldier.

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Endless salt-pans, a typical shape 

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Our vehicle in the “watered” desert appears rather abandoned.

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Probably the most important truck in this area. The military took over the water supply and nearly every morning it came to lively scenes on the main street of Amedale. Right: On-the-car jumpers and riding along is not really welcome.

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Break-up to the....

Erta Ale Volcano

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Evening impressions. The glowing hole in the midst of the desert obtained unique impressions

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

The new land shape

After a dusty ride through the Afar desert we reached our target bowl, but the overflow of the south pit could not be achieved even practising swearing rituals. But the total change of the landscape was immense. When 2008 (comparison comes still) a ca.200m wide hole gaped in the earth, now a lava lake with a diameter of for instance 40m could be observed. The entire south pit is now filled up completely and at the south rim the Pahoehoe lava over-sloshed and flowed out 300m downwards. This event took place mainly in November 2010.

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

The North Crater

Jump to the Erta tours from 2002 and 2008    Jump to the Erta tours from 2002 and 2008

Back to the South Pit

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

The now 10-15 meters under the surface situates lava lake raised mainly in its level, but it remains uncertain how far the entire pit is only a big locked lava basin. There must be a sub terrain reservoir, because often irregularities in the direction of flow and speed could be observed.(Click to GIF) In this animation you can see a really fast change like a shock. Maybe subterranean lava masses got loosen from the 'ceiling' of the thick covering plate, or it was nothing else like a strong degassing event.

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Pattern of the moving lava see. The videos and Gif-animations in fast motion shows the drifting of the crust- plates like the tectonic principal more clearly up.

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Wide angle photos of the whole crater

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

 Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

The try to catch the bubbling by photos. The deep situated outleds made a good contasted exposure very difficult. Another problem was the enormous heat. Nothing seems really sharp in the view finder. The strong scintillation of the air was also nice to observe without tele lenses.  

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Morning and night photos from the crater

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Conan or Canon?

Peles tears and hair garden

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Finest rock wool at the edge of the volcano craters. A nice association- the fine threads look really like hair roots at the end.

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Left and middle: Peles Tears, an almost obsidian appearance. The green-brown colouring of the nature glass reminded me also to tektites.

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Marco and I hunting for unusual forms of Peles Tears

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Already the jagged shape explains the high silicate portion in the lava

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Oppositional to my hair quantity, plentifull was to be found at the NO side of the crater. However, only a highly silicate lava can produce this Peles Hair, which leaves hair-fine drawing threads. These threads are caused by spattering of extremely hot bubbling lava lakes. Here Peles Tears get developed, which are shown further above.

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

It remembers me to threads in traction out of a honey glass. In some cases the developing of the fine 'natural glass fibre' already possesses the consistency of cotton wool. In Hawaii at the Po'o'o crater we discovered also this phenomenon more sparely. But at the Erta Ale crater the lava landscape was wrapped under a green veil in the size of a football field. 

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

May the new town at the rim?

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Typical houses, here and in the whole Afar desert

Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel

Nessi and the way back. The descent was supported by a rental camel caravan.

    Erta Ale Volcano, Dallol 2011    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel    Ethiopia, Erta Ale and Dallol 2011 by Th. Boeckel   

Landscapes of the Afar desert. The badtub far away

Link to the Nyiragongo Tour


Jump to the Erta Ale tours from 2002 and 2008

More at

ALPE by M.Rietze    by R.Roscoe    

 Stromboli online     vulkane.net  VEI by Chris Weber 


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© 2011, Photos und Text Th. Boeckel, last modification 02/14/2011