New Ocean Will Form In Africa As Continent Slowly Splits Into Two – Scientists

Afar depression, 120 meters below sea level, an arid region near the Eritrean border in Ethiopia [Photo/Courtesy]

The African continent is very slowly peeling apart and scientists believe that a new ocean is being formed.

Geologists working in the remote Afar region of Ethiopia say the ocean will eventually split the African continent into two.

This, however, the scientists say, will take about 10 million years.

According to the scientists, the East African Rift that stretches from the Afar region of Ethiopia down to Mozambique splits at 7mm annually.

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There exits what the scientists call the Victoria microplate, which is one of the largest continental microplates.

It’s a rift branch which, along chains of deep lakes and volcanoes, makes up the several features of the East African Rift System.

In a recent study, the scientists found out that the microplate which lies between the eastern and western branches of the Rift, has been rotating counterclockwise for the last two years with respect to the African Plate—the major tectonic plate constituting most of the African continent.

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They found out that the microplate rotates in the opposite direction to all the other neighbouring microplates in the region.

Regular volcanic activities at the “Y” shaped end of the rift at the Afar region further inform the believe that Africa is witnessing the birth of a new ocean.

Lead researcher Tim Wright described the events as “truly incredible”.

The “Y” shaped junction is where the African, Somalian, and Arabian tectonic plates meet near Djibouti and Eritrea.

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Written by Wycliffe Nyamasege


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