HomeAfricaThe Peculiar Travertine Chimneys of Lake Abbe
The Peculiar Travertine Chimneys of Lake Abbe
Lake Abbe is actually a salt lake, the largest and final of a chain of 6 connected lakes on the Ethiopia-Djibouti border. Lake Abbe lies on a basin which is called the Afar Depression at a point where the Arabian, Nubian, and Somalian plates are pulling away from each other.
The strain set off by the splitting Nubian and Somalian plates has formed a peculiar landscape around Lake Abbe. When the two plates drift apart, the crust above them thins until it cracks. The Travertine Chimneys of Lake Abbe are the most special landscape in this area, attracting nature lovers from all around the world.
Moreover, Magma pushes to the surface via the thin spots and warm underwater springs. When the boiling water bubble up to the surface, they put the dissolved calcium carbonates generate towering chimneys, the same way water trickling down the roof of limestone caves makes stalactites and stalagmites. Specific of these travertine Chimneys of Lake Abbe can reach about the heights of 50 meters, and puffs of the steam vent from the top. Moreover, the strange landscape motivated Charlton Heston to shoot his classic 1968 film, “Planet of the Apes”, on the shores of Lake Abbe.
The Afar Depression is captivating to geologists since it is the place where the new ocean is being shaped. Therefore the depression is forming as the African plate ruptures into the Nubian and Somalian plates. In a few million years, the Indian Ocean will break down through the coastal highlands and flood the Afar Depression, forming a new ocean and making the Horn of Africa a large island. Hence when continental plates move apart in the ocean, it generates a new seafloor, but in East Africa, the procedure is happening on dry ground, where it is called continental rifting.
Lake Abbe is mainly fed by the Awash River and seasonal streams which pass in the lake from the west and south, crossing the vast salt flats. On the northwest shore rises Mount Dama Ali, a dormant volcano. History tells us, that Lake Abbe was once a much larger lake but the diversion of water from Awash River for irrigation in the 1950s has dried up the lake’s surface area by two-thirds and the water level by five meters.
The adjacent town lies about two hundred kilometers away, but there’s a little settlement established by the Afar people near the lake’s shore. Aside from the Afar shepherds who bring their herds of sheep or donkeys to feed, the only inhabitants of this lake are pink Flamingos. So whenever you visit this part of the world, you must visit the travertine Chimneys of Lake Abbe.