The Denakil Depression, more than 114meters ( 380ft ) below sea level, is where the earth's crust is creating new land, and was once a branch of the Red Sea. The depression extends across Eritrea to the Red Sea. Temperatures in this desert often exceed 550 c ( 1310 F ).
The Afar people have adapted to this harsh environment and have lived here for thousands of years. The desert was first traversed by Europeans in 1928, and Katherine Fannin, a journalist and British spy during the Italian occupation in the mid 1930s, was one of the first Europeans to cross the desert.
Many of the lakes (often dry or shallow ) can be up to 5 km (3miles) deep in salt. There are fields of lava throughout this geologically active area. Unique zebra and wild ass have adapted to the harsh environment.