The map below, shows a schematic geological setting of the Danakil depression. The Danakil depression lies at the centre point where three tectonic plates move apart from each other. The whole area within the bounderies of the orangecoloured bedrock (on the map) has tarred apart and Oceanic crust is forming on the lowest locations like the Dabnakil and around Asaalta lake in Djibouti. The crust is so thin there that magma is able to break through the crust, forming volcanos.

The Erta ale (the upper left of the three basaltic systems marked red), is one of them. And unique since it has a permanent lava lake. More to the North werst of this chain, lies a larga salt flat. Here, this layers of salt surfaces. In 1926, Magma came in contact with this salt and enclosed ground water. This caused a phreatic eruption (explosive exstrusion of overheated groundwater and ash), thus forming the Dallol crater. This is now a geothermal area with brightly coloured sulphur and salt deposites.