The Danakil Depression formed from the continental drift of the African and Asian tectonic plates. As the plates drifted apart at a rate of 1-2 cm per year, they leave behind a geological depression, known as the Danakil Depression (or Afar Depression).
The Danakil Depression sits at the triple junction between three tectonic plates.
The Afar Depression spans Djibouti, Eritrea, and the Afar region of Ethiopia. The Northern part of this depression is the Danakil Depression, which sits more than 100m below sea level and contains some of the world’s most extraterrestrial landscapes.
Beyond its fascinating geology, the Danakil holds the keys to some of biology’s most profound questions. In 1974, researchers found the remains of ‘Lucy’ in the Danakil Depression, an early ancestor of modern humans dating back 3.2 million years (now on display at the National Museum in Addis Ababa). The acidic springs of the Dallol Crater have attracted scientists in the search for extremophile microbes as they seek to understand the origins of life on Earth, as well as the possibilities for early-stage life on Mars.