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© David MOREIRA/ESE/CNRS Photothèque
Active molten bischofite flow (hydrated magnesium chloride) at a temperature of 115° on the salt plain in the Danakil depression in Ethiopia. In January 2016, researchers undertook a scientific expedition in this region located on the rift that traverses the Afar region and one of only two places on Earth where the oceanic crust emerges on the surface. It is a multi-extreme environment, which combines very high temperatures (up to 115 °C), very low pH (values are often negative), high saline saturation (30-50%) and the presence of toxic gas. It is a perfect site to study the limits of microbial life and could therefore provide an excellent analogy with primitive Earth environments.