Africa ‘witnessing birth of a new ocean’

Above: The 60km crack that opened in Ethiopia five years ago
will eventually become an ocean, scientists say (BBC News) .

By Matt McGrath
BBC News Science reporter

Friday, 25 June 2010

Africa is witnessing the birth of a new ocean, according to scientists at the Royal Society.

Geologists working in the remote Afar region of Ethiopia say the ocean will eventually split the African continent in two, though it will take about 10 million years.

Lead researcher Tim Wright who is presenting the research at the Royal Society’s Summer Exhibition, described the events as “truly incredible”.

Used to understanding changes in the planet on timescales of millions of years, the international team of scientists including Dr Wright have seen amazing changes in Afar in the past five years, where the continent is cracking open, quite literally underneath their feet.

In 2005, a 60km long stretch of the earth opened up to a width of eight metres over a period of just ten days.

Hot, molten rock from deep within the Earth is trickling to the surface and creating the split.

Underground eruptions are still continuing and, ultimately, the horn of Africa will fall away and a new ocean will form. Read more at BBC.com.


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