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Geoheritage and Resilience of Dallol and the Northern Danakil Depression in Ethiopia

Abstract : The Danakil Depression, located in the northern segment of the Afar rift, is a world-class example of active rifting and the birth of a new ocean. The unique, yet only partially interpreted geothermal system of Dallol in northern Danakil is currently receiving renewed attention by researchers and visitors despite its extreme climate since the recent improvements of infrastructure and the stabilisation of Ethio-Eritrean political relations. Previous studies focused on the general geological description, the economic exploitation of potash reserves and interpretation of the complex hydrothermal processes. Continuing monitoring of geothermal activity has not yet been carried out, and the valorisation of local geoheritage has not accompanied the increased interest of tourists. Here, we present a three-step study in order to demonstrate the unique geological environment and international geoheritage significance of Dallol and Danakil. A three-year-long remote sensing campaign has been done to provide information on improving the resilience of visitors through interpreted, monthly hazard maps, and on following up the changes of geothermal activity. Over the same time, the first geoheritage assessment of the region for 13 geosites was carried out along with a comparative analysis of three quantitative methods (to evaluate the scientific importance and the geotouristic development potential of the area). Finally, with the input of the assessment, a preliminary geoheritage management plan was created for practical consideration by stakeholders toward a geoconservation and geotourism development, as well as a resilience system of this peculiar area.
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Viktor Vereb, Benjamin van Wyk de Vries, Miruts Hagos, Dávid Karátson. Geoheritage and Resilience of Dallol and the Northern Danakil Depression in Ethiopia. International Journal of Geoheritage and Parks, Darswin Publishing House, 2020, 12 (82), ⟨10.1007/s12371-020-00499-8⟩. ⟨hal-02968781⟩

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