Volatile and beautiful: Africa’s Afar depression

The Afar depression in East Africa is a geologically tumultuous region. On the surface, it looks frozen. Below the surface, magma is having a ball of a time fueling not one, but 12 active volcanoes. And let’s not forget about the geysers, the cauldrons, and even an entire boiling lake of lava. The Afar depression’s low elevation means the Red Sea has often flooded it, leaving behind ‘white gold’, or salt from evaporated seawater.

Somehow, pastoral tribes and salt traders manage to stay put and survive despite all the drama. George Steinmetz captured some really amazing pictures.

Afar (1)
Afar (3)
Afar (4)
Afar (5)

About the author

Low Lai Chow travels light and is working on exercising demons from her past. Find out more about her at