There's a Place in Ethiopia That's Too Metal to Sustain Life

By Sarah Basford on at

Much like my teenage bedroom, scientists have found a place on Earth where no life can exist. It's just too metal to sustain it.

The culprit is a geothermal field called the Dallol Depression in Ethiopia and a depressing story it truly is. A group of scientists travelled there and analysed the inhospitable lands, according to New York Times, and came to the conclusion that no microbial life could be found within the area.

Dallol houses some of the world's saltiest, acidic bodies of extremely hot water. The team of scientists checked these pools, where some organisms were thought to withstand the conditions, but found nothing except impostors that merely looked like life. They were actually nanoscale, silica-rich grains that under a microscope appeared to be cells.

Due to the combination of severe salinity, acidity and magnesium salts, researchers found it was too severe for any cells to maintain structure let alone survive and thrive.

This is a pretty impressive feat, as microbes are generally found in even the most extreme of environments. These organisms are referred to as 'extremophiles' and have been found in hydrothermal vents and areas with no oxygen at all. They are the real metalheads of this story but alas, not even they were found in this pit of death.

Pour one out for any valiant microbes who tried and failed. [Via New York Times]

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