Researcher finds Earth’s Most Uninhabitable Place

Researchers have found an aquatic environment on Earth with complete absence of any form of life. The findings revealed that any form of microbial life was absent in the hot, saline, hyperacid ponds of Dallol Geothermal Field in Ethiopia. The research was published in journal, ‘Nature Ecology and Evolution’.

Key Findings

The researchers verified that there is no microbial life in these salty, hot and hyperacid pools or in the adjacent magnesium-rich brine lakes. The findings may lead to an improved understanding of limits of habitability.

As per researchers, the study may lead to an improved understanding of limits of habitability and presents evidence that there are places even on Earth’s surface which are sterile even though they contain liquid water. The place was even proposed as a terrestrial analogue of early Mars.

Dallol’s landscape extends over a volcanic crater full of salt, constantly releasing toxic gases with water boiling in middle of intense hydro thermal activity. It is one of the most torrid environments on planet with daily temperatures in winter exceeding over 45 degrees Celsius or 113 Fahrenheit. The landscape had abundant hyper saline and hyper acid pools, with pH — which is measured on a scale from 0 (very acidic) to 14 (very alkaline) even hitting the negative mark.

Earlier studies had pointed that certain microorganisms can develop in this multi-extreme environment but now they have presented this place as an example of limits of conditions that can support life. Earlier findings also included a great diversity of a type of primitive salt-loving microorganisms in desert, and the saline canyons around hydro thermal site but not in hyper acid and hyper saline pools, nor in Black and Yellow lakes of Dallol which are rich in magnesium (Mg). And all these findings are despite the fact that microbial dispersion in this area, due to the wind and to human visitors, is intense.

About Dallol geothermal field

Dallol is a unique, terrestrial hydrothermal system located in Ethiopia, a country in East Africa. It lies in the evaporitic plain of Danakil depression at Afar Triangle, in prolongation of Erta Ale basaltic volcanic range. It is known for its unearthly colors and mineral patterns, as well as the very acidic fluids that are discharging from its hydrothermal springs.

The wider area of Dallol is known as one of the driest and hottest places on planet Earth. It is also one of the lowest land points, lying 125 m or 410 ft below mean sea level (MSL).




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