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Danakil Depression

  • Category
    Geography
  • Published
    12th Nov, 2019

Nature Ecology & Evolution recently published a new study. It says that active and naturally occurring life cannot be sustained at Danakil Depression, a place having water.

Context

  • Nature Ecology & Evolution recently published a new study. It says that active and naturally occurring life cannot be sustained at Danakil Depression, a place having water.

About

Danakil Depression:

  • The Danakil Depression is located in Ethiopia. It is the northern part of Afar Triangle there.
  • It is a geological depression that has resulted from the divergence of three tectonic plates in the Horn of Africa.


  • It is one of the lowest place in the surface of earth measuring 125m below sea level.
  • It is the hottest place on Earth in terms of year-round average temperatures. It remains without rain for most of the year.
  • At the northern end of Danakil Depression which is separated by live volcanoes from the Red Sea, this depression was formed by the evaporation of an inland water body. All the water entering Danakil evaporates, and no streams flow out from its extreme environment. It is covered with more than 10 lakh tonnes of salt.

Findings of the report:

  • There are extremophile microbes that can adapt to environmental conditions that are too extreme for any living organism. This new research has pointed out that in Danakil Depression, a place having bubbling pools of water and mounds of salt covering its landscape, even these microorganisms cannot live.
  • It identifies two barriers for this: magnesium-dominated brines that cause cells to break down; and an environment having simultaneously very low pH and high salt (toxic hyperacid-hypersaline water), a combination that makes adaptation highly difficult.
  • The scientists have the opinion that the fact that this research has not revealed life form does not mean that organisms more complex than microfossils are not present there.
  • They say that until more intricate studies are done, this Danakil Depression for now is the most inhospitable area not fit for living.
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