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Take a look at some of the most lifeless places on Earth. From Ethiopia to Antarctica, there are locations where the conditions don’t allow even microorganisms and bacteria to exist

Words: Emily Georgieva

Photography: Erin Hervey

28 January 2020

Recently scientists found a place in Ethiopia that is completely deprived of all forms of life, following information posted by National Geographic. But there are also other locations across Earth where the conditions don’t allow life to exist. We take a look at some of the spots on the planet’s surface where nothing, not even bacteria and microorganisms manage to survive.

Dalol Valley, Ethiopia

According to French scientists, no bacteria could ever exist in the. Usually the presence of water on land surface signifies possibility for life to spread in the area, however this is not always the case. The Nature Ecology & Evolution magazine reports studies by scientists proving that even water is not a factor when it comes to determining the impossibility of a habitat. The water in the Dalol Valley is extremely hot, 108°C. The salt levels and the high saturation with magnesium turns the water into a no-source for any form of life.

The South Pacific Seabed

This place is not like the rest of the Ocean. The water surface that covers Earth is usually thought of as a source of life and this is true for the bigger part of it. The Ocean is an amazing place hosting unique forms of life that cannot be found anywhere else. However, certain patches such as the South Pacific Seabed are among the very few places on the seafloor where as little as roughly 1000 living cells are found to exist.

McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica

The McMurdo Dry Valleys are known as one of the most lifeless places there are. Not even microbes can survive there. This place is completely sterile and uninhabitable. It is also hard to reach due to its location, although there is nothing much to be seen in the incredibly dry area.

Pitch Lake, Trinidad

The Pitch Lake is a storage for asphalt – the largest one ever in fact. This place in the Caribbean is also a natural lake, which in a way gives it an extra bit of uniqueness. 

The Atacama Desert, Chile

The Atacama Desert is known is the driest place on Earth – this alone says it all. Some places across the desert do not favour any form of life at all. This is due to the rough conditions in the area. Nature has made the Atacama Desert unique and it is meant to be appreciated only from afar. Some places in the area have not even been discovered yet. The Atacama Desert is currently used as a training ground for potential future Mars expeditions.

Don Juan, Antarctica

Another place in Antarctica, Don Juan, is known for the extremely rough weather conditions. The temperatures of the water in this region sometimes drop to -30°C. Yet, the water never freezes. This is due to the unusual level of salt that doesn’t allow the water to turn to ice. The Don Juan water is 40% saltier than the ocean, whereas the Dead Sea compares to 33 per cent.

Yellowstone's Hot Springs, USA

The temperature of the hot springs in Yellowstone is too high to support many forms of life. This spot in the States is an attraction often visited by tourists. Even though you might not expect that, there is a bed for bacteria there, which has the enzyme used by scientists to make copies of DNA. The bacteria use the asid-sauna habitat to survive.

The Dead Sea, Jordan, Palestine and Israel

The Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth on dry land. It stands at -427m below sea level. The hyper salty water makes the place no home for any creature. What is perhaps most interesting about this location, is the fact that it helps life on Earth. Since ancient times people have used the mud and the highly mineralised water for health purposes. In that sense the Dead Sea could be considered an oxymoron. It serves to prove that the lack of life does not necessarily mean a place cannot contribute to the development of live on Earth.



NOMADSofORIGIN is an independent annual publication with a focus on sustainable travelling and global cultural values. Each issue features interviews, engaging articles and photo guides, which take our nomadic readers through different destinations and introduce them to local people's perspectives.



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