Djibouti borders Eritrea to the north, Ethiopia to the West and Somalia to the South. Its Eastern coastline is strategically placed on the Bab el-Menab Strait, at the top of the Gulf of Aden and at the mouth of the Red Sea. The Djiboutian port serves as the gateway to the Suez Canal, one of the world's busiest shipping routes. The port is the lifeblood of the economy, providing the biggest source of income in this country. The estimated population is circa 923,000, the majority of whom live around the capital also called Djibouti. The land area is 23,200 km2
Figure 3. Location map of Djibouti
Djibouti is covered by a large lava field interspersed with volcanos and craters. The country is at the centre of the Afar Triangle, a wide area (~200 000 km²) acting as a triple junction where the three rifts of Red Sea, Ethiopian and Gulf of Aden are converging. The connections of those rifts are asymmetrical and create a complex diffuse deformation creating the Afar depression, a unique situation in the world with continental-rift merging with oceanic-rift.
Figure 4. Djibouti geology overview
Djibouti's topography is closely linked with the recent geologic history. The country is shaped by the long fracture lines oriented mainly NW-SE, cutting the country into long plateau and deep depressions including the famous Assal lake at -155m below sea level. The Assal rift in geographic centre of the country divide the country into two main zones on each side. In the north part of the gulf of Tadjourah lies mountain ranges and plateau made of basalts and rhyolites (mount Eguer Aleïta: 1 799m). The south western part of the gulf and Assal rift is made of a series of asymmetrical grabens and horsts with rift within rift structures. The deepest depression is host of the Assal lake the lowest point in Africa at -155m below sea level, but also the location of the youngest volcanic eruption, Ardoukôba in 1978. The Assal lake is surrounded by a salt plain deposited by continuous evaporation of the lake, while being refilled by the sea through cracks on the rift axis. At the western border with Ethiopia lie the Abhé Bad lake within another depression. It is a unique sight with carbonate chimney up to tens of meters high, with fumaroles and hot springs from volcanic activity. Most of the other depressions are closed basins filled with sediments bordered by high ridges (above 1000m high), including Gaggadé and Hanlé.
Figure 5. The Gaggadé graben
Figure 6. The Ta Assi Dar’ wadi (Pandora valley)
Oklila exploration permit
The Pandora prospect is located in the mountains forming the south end of the Gaggadé depression, more precisely in the Ta Assi Dar’ wadi, it is one of the most remote place in the country.
Figure 7. The Oklila exploration permit (Landsat background)