National Geographic calls Ethiopia's Danakil Depression "the cruelest place on Earth." It's a desert wasteland, where temperatures can push past 120 F, where ancient and current lava flows impede movement, and where water is so scarce that that people build rock domes over the top of volcanic vents to trap and condense steam.
It's also a place where Ethiopian men and boys regularly travel in order to cut slabs of salt off of the surface of the Earth and haul them back to civilization. Salt flats like this occur when entire bodies of water totally evaporate. In the Danakil Depression, you'll also find salt towers and other formations caused by evaporation off of volcanic geysers and hot springs.
The photo above was taken by Reuters photographer Siegfried Modola, who traveled with a group of salt miners into the desert and then followed their haul all the way back to the marketplace. You can see his full slideshow of images online. I chose this one because it gives you a view of the salt as it's found on the ground, and the neat, rectangular blocks the merchants cut it into for shipping.
The spot is a favorite of photographers. I'd also recommend checking out the photos and story put together by Christina Feldt, who posted about the Danakil salt flats earlier this year. Read the rest
I enjoyed my lightly peanutted salt. Read the rest
The Dead Sea's salinity of 33.7 percent makes it 8.6 times saltier than the ocean. Bordering Israel, the West Bank and Jordan, it is 423m below sea level, making it the lowest place on land on Earth. A tourist hotspot for millennia, more than 1m visitors a year visit on the Israeli & Palestinian side alone. The view from the shore is one thing, but from the air, the sheer strangeness of the salt formations in and around the lake become readily apparent. Photos by Baz Ratner, of Reuters, and others. Read the rest