Danakil Alps

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The Danakil Alps are a highland region in Ethiopia and Eritrea with peaks over 1000 metres in height and a width varying between 40 and 70 kilometres.[1] The alps lie to the east of the Danakil Depression[2] and separate it from the southern Red Sea. A rift escarpment facing the Red Sea forms the eastern boundary of the range.

Geologically these highlands are described as a horst[3] and are sometimes referred to as the Danakil Horst or Danakil Block. They were formed by geological faulting which has occurred since the Miocene epoch.[4] There is Precambrian basement rock underlying the region and in coastal Eritrea Precambrian and Mesozoic rocks are exposed.[5] The basement rock of the alps has become overlaid with flood basalt since the Oligocene epoch. About 20 million years ago the Afar rift zone opened up. This resulted in the alps breaking away from the Ethiopian plateau to which they had previously been attached and drifting to the east/northeast.[6]

The alps are the most substantial volcanic range in Ethiopia and Eritrea.[7] The range contains the Alu system of volcanic fissures, Erta Ale (the most active volcano in Ethiopia), the Tat Ali shield volcano,[8] the Sork Ale stratovolcano[9] and Mallahle (the highest peak in the Afdera region of Ethiopia).

In 1981, Leon La Lumière Jr. suggested that the alps may have been an island or peninsula during the period prior to 30,000 years ago,[10] although they have been cut off from the sea since the Pleistocene epoch.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ethiopian (Danakhil) Potash Project, Afar, Ethiopia". mining-technology.com. Retrieved 11 January 2017. 
  2. ^ "Curiosities of the Danakil Depression". Nasa. 27 August 2014. 
  3. ^ Elaine Morgan (2012). The Scars of Evolution: What our bodies tell us about human origins. Souvenir Press. ISBN 9780285641327. 
  4. ^ J.L. Melvin (1991). Evaporites, Petroleum and Mineral Resources. Elsevier. p. 44. ISBN 9780080869643. 
  5. ^ R. W. Hutchinson; G. G. Engels (29 October 1970). "Tectonic Significance of Regional Geology and Evaporite Lithofacies in Northeastern Ethiopia". The Royal Society. doi:10.1098/rsta.1970.0038. 
  6. ^ "Geology of the Danakil and Ali-Sabieh Blocks". Afar Rift Consortium. Retrieved 17 January 2017. 
  7. ^ Philip Briggs; Brian Blatt (2009). Ethiopia. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 312. ISBN 9781841622842. 
  8. ^ Donald E. Garrett (2004). Handbook of Lithium and Natural Calcium Chloride. Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-12-276152-2. 
  9. ^ "Global Volcanism Program: Sork Ale". Smithsonian Institution. 
  10. ^ G. James Royce (2005). The Diary Of The Deity. iUniverse. p. 241. ISBN 9780595341160. 
  11. ^ Katarzyna Cieśluk; Mirosław T. Karasiewicz; Zdzisław Preisner (2014). "Geotouristic attractions of the Danakil Depression" (PDF). Geotourism/Geoturystyka. 1 (36): 33–42. doi:10.7494/geotour.2014.36.33. Retrieved 11 January 2017.