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Periodic table of weather elements: Sulphur and the Dallol salt flat

Courtesy: Wikipedia

Courtesy: Wikipedia

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    Cheryl Santa Maria
    Digital Reporter

    Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 1:57 PM -

    Ethiopia's Dallol salt flat is the end result of subterranean volcanic eruptions meeting with water and concentrated minerals.

    It's an incredible, naturally-occurring phenomenon that's home to numerous hot springs and geysers, in addition to salt pillars, acidic pools and other strange formations.

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    A series of eruptions in 1926 helped to form the Dallol volcano, while other eruptions led to the development of craters and salt flats.

    The term "Dallol" was coined by the Afar people. The rough translation would be "dissolution" or "disintegration" -- a reference to the iron oxide and sulphur present in the area.

    There are a variety of minerals and elements present in the park, with sulphuric reactions being one of the main culprits behind the area's breathtaking colours.


    Sulphur -- with an atomic number of 16 -- does more than change the colour of things. According to Weather Network meteorologist Brian Dillon, this element has close ties to the weather.

    "Sulphur has always been around us," he says, "either in the atmosphere or through the process of making metals. In terms of atmospheric processes, sulphur and ash are most commonly found in volcanic eruptions. In fact, April 9 is the anniversary of one of the biggest volcanic eruptions in human history, which occurred in 1815 in Indonesia."

    ALIEN WORLDS: Visit theweathernetwork.com Thursday afternoon. We'll be taking a look at more strange places that can be found here on Earth.

    He's referring to Mount Tambora, which killed 100,000 people almost immediately. When the volcano erupted, massive amounts of ash and sulphur dioxide rushed into the atmosphere, blocking out the sun.

    People near the volcano would have died upon inhaling the volcano's toxic smog, with many others dying in the three years that followed.

    "Mount Tambora is one reason why 1816 is called the year without a summer," Dillon says.

    "The volcano's ash literally prevented the sun's rays from reaching the ground for months, causing crops to die off and sparking disease outbreaks." 

    That had a huge impact on the weather across the globe. In July 1816, Vermont and Maine saw a mind-boggling 45 cm of snow.

    Do you have an element you'd like to learn about? Leave us a note in the comments below!

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