Category Archives: SERENA

Fribourg Carbonate Sedimentology Team in the Afar (NE Ethiopia)

Within the framework of the SNF-funded research project SERENA (Sedimentary REcord of the Northern Afar), we are currently doing research in the most extreme place on Earth – the Danakil Depression in the northern Afar, Ethiopia. Since 2013, sedimentologists and students from our Carbonate Sedimentology Lab team up with colleagues and students from Addis Ababa University to study the lacustrine and marine deposits in the Danakil Depression, an active extensive continental rift basin. The first part of the expedition is focusing on hot spring deposits, gypsum microbialites and lacustrine deposits in and around Lake Afdera.  The second part of the expedition has as main target the detailed study of coralgal reef deposits associated to stromatolites and microbialites fringing the Danakil Depression north of the volcanic range Erta Ale. Those studies will help in the understanding of the connection of the Danakil Depression, lying currently below sea level, with the Red Sea during the mid- to late Pleistocene. As side-project, preliminary studies in 2015 have shown the extreme acidity, salinity and heat of the acidic hot springs and geysers in Dallol occurring in the central part of the Danakil Basin. Three-year monitoring is showing the dynamics of the system resulting in the precipitation of yellowish-greenish to reddish salt deposits rich in sulfur and iron and being a habitat for halophiles.