Africa ‘Wtnessing Birth of a New Ocean’ – BBC – By Matt McGrath BBC News Science reporter

June 26th, 2010 Print Print Email Email

A 60km crack opened in Ethiopia in 2005 and has been expanding ever since (more…)

A 60km crack opened in Ethiopia in 2005 and has been expanding ever since

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.

‘A smaller Africa’

Dr James Hammond, a seismologist from the University of Bristol – who has been working in Afar – says that parts of the region are below sea level and the ocean is only cut off by about a 20-metre block of land in Eritrea.

“Eventually this will drift apart,” he told the BBC World Service. “The sea will flood in and will start to create this new ocean.

“It will pull apart, sink down deeper and deeper and eventually… parts of southern Ethiopia, Somalia will drift off, create a new island, and we’ll have a smaller Africa and a very big island that floats out into the Indian Ocean.”

The researchers say that they are extremely lucky to be able to witness the birth of this ocean as the process is normally hidden beneath the seas.

The team hope to conduct experiments in the area that will help understand how the surface of the Earth is shaped.

They believe that the information they glean from observing the shaping of the Earth will help scientists better understand natural hazards such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

  1. Solomon
    | #1

    It looks like God is going to give another port for Ethiopia and help ONLF and OLF to separate from Ethiopia. I just wish he deliver the port in our life time. In any case to bad for Meles and Issayas, Ethiopia will have a port once again.

  2. Anonymous
    | #2

    That is true Solomon. They in their evil heart wanted to make Ethiopia as a landlocked country and loot all what they wanted. What they didn’t know is Ethiopia is a promise land. Thank God.

  3. Getayawqal
    | #3

    That is true Solomon. They in their evil heart wanted to make Ethiopia as a landlocked country and loot all what they wanted. What they didn’t know is Ethiopia is a promise land. Thank God.

  4. suresh
    | #4

    continent is cracking like bark of tree is cracking

  5. suresh
    | #5

    continents are bark of earth.
    suresh
    sureshbansal342@gmail.com

  6. Sisay
    | #6

    Why not we dig in advance not waiting for 10 millions year? We need this event soon.

Comments are closed.