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Archive for July 27th, 2014

Gateway to Hell: The Mysterious Volcanic Hot Springs of Ethiopia

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on July 27, 2014

Take a tour of this place that’s truly unlike anywhere else on Earth:
About 600 km north of Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, the district of Dallol paints a rather curious picture. The former mining settlement harbours a tiny population, last published in 2007 by the country’s Central Statistical Agency as 83,930, and it holds the current record for the highest average temperature of any inhabited place on Earth. Between 1960 and 1966, the average annual temperature was a toasty 35°C (96°F), but the temperature can regularly creep to over 46°C (115°f).
It’s also home to the incredible Dallol Volcano. At 48 metres below sea level, Dallol is Earth’s lowest land volcano, and its last recorded eruption was in 1926. Its craters contains hot springs that boast a whole range of otherworldly colours – including neon yellow – thanks to the hot magma bubbling below the surface. This magma heats the groundwater that flows into the area from the nearby highlands, and as the heated groundwater moves up towards the surface, it dissolves salt, sulphur, potash and other minerals and deposits them in the Dallol craters.
“The supersaturated brine emerges through hot springs in the floor of the craters,” says Hobart King at “As the brines evaporate in the hot arid climate, extensive salt formations are formed on the floor of the craters. These are coloured white, yellow, brown, orange and green by sulfur, dissolved iron, mud and the life activity of halophile algae.
It might look incredible, but Dallol poses quite a challenge to the stream of tourists that brave it every year. If they can stand the heat, there’s always the threat of acid pools and deadly gases to keep them on their toes: “Dallol craters are dangerous places to visit because their surface can be covered by a crust of salt with pools of hot acid water just inches below,” says King. “Toxic gases are sometimes released from craters.”

Back in December 2013, Apple’s iPhone assistant Siri ‘sometimes gives an odd response about “opening [the] gates of Hades,” the Greek mythological term for Hell, or the underworld, when one asks what will happen on July 27th, according to reports.
Gateways to Hell
While in some belief systems, the afterlife can only be accessed by spiritual means, in others, the underworld could be accessed directly from the Earth. Here are 13 real spots that people have thought (and in a few cases, still do) lead straight to the lands of the dead.
Some of these involve the Christian concept of Hell, while others were supposed to lead to other (sometimes not unpleasant) afterlives.
Some of The Places on Earth People Believed Were Entrances to Hell
Erta Ale: In the north of Ethiopia, about a hundred miles west of the southern end of the Red Sea, is a bubbling caldera whose southern most pit is known locally as “The Gateway to Hell.”
The Ploutonion at Hierapolis: The ancient city of Hierapolis, near modern-day Pamukkale in Turkey was once home to a site considered sacred to Pluto, the god of the dead.
Fengdu, China: The 2,000-year-old City of Ghosts, located in Chongqing municipality, has long been thought to be the place the dead stopped on their way to the afterlife, though it seems to have gotten this reputation in a roundabout way.
The Seven Gates of Hell: A local legend claims that in the woods off Trout Run Road in Hellam Township, Pennsylvania, sit the Seven Gates of Hell. According to popular fiction, the gates appear near the site of a tragic asylum fire, and if you step through all seven gates, you land straight in Hell.
Mount Hekla: Iceland’s particularly active volcano developed a reputation as a gateway to Hell in the 12th century, after its 1104 eruption. Benedeit’s 1120 Anglo-Norman poem Voyage of St. Brendan mentions the volcano as the prison of Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus.
The Mayan Cenotes: The Maya certainly had some of the most picturesque entrances to the underworld. These natural underground waterways, located in Mexico and Central America, were thought to be the home of the rain god Chaak and portals to Xibalba, the afterlife. Caves were often seen as gateways to the afterlife in the Mayan worldview, literal passageways between the living world above and the realm below.
Mount Osore: The Europeans were hardly the only folks to believe that volcanoes marked the entrance to the underworld. Mount Osore, region filled with volcanic cauldrons located on the remote Shimokita Peninsula of Japan’s Honshu island, is literally named “Fear Mountain.”



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