Tibesti Massif and Trou au Natron Caldera

August 24, 2015


Photographer: Gabor Merkl
Summary AuthorGabor Merkl
This photo shows a portion of the volcanic Tibesti Massif region of northern Chad, in the center of the Sahara Desert. The prominent mountain in the background is Pic Toussidé (10,876 ft or 3,315 m), the youngest among the great volcanoes of the massif. Significant volcanic activity began in this region in the Oligocene and lasted until the Quaternary. However, the activity didn't die away completely as there are still places where hot springs indicate that magma is at depth below the surface.

In the foreground is the 5 mi (8 km) wide and 2,297 ft (700 m) deep Trou au Natron caldera. The white spot in the bottom is natron (sodium-carbonate) dissolved from the volcanic materials by the evaporating water of intermittent rainfall. Local people grind natron and mix it in camels’ food supposedly to strengthen them. Note the three dark cinder cones emerging from the white bottom. One of them, in the center of the photo, is a perfect 328 ft (100 m) high truncated cone. Near these cinder cones you can wash your hands in the bubbling water of many of the hot springs.

Trou au Natron caldera is one of the most spectacular spots of the Tibesti region. Due to its geographical position and the present political chaos in the central Sahara, it's not easy to reach. But after decades of wars Chad is now relatively peaceful giving those who love the Sahara region an opportunity to see the mysterious and astonishing Tibesti massif. Photo taken on January 26, 2014.

Photo Details: Canon EOS 350D DIGITAL; Exposure Time 1/1000 second; ISO  100; Aperture ƒ/5.6; Focal Length 22 mm.