Magazine article Geographical

Fissure Could Be the Start of a New Ocean

Magazine article Geographical

Fissure Could Be the Start of a New Ocean

Article excerpt

A fissure in the remote Afar desert in northeastern Ethiopia could represent the creation of a new ocean basin, say scientists. A team of 18 researchers from Ethiopia, Britain, France, Italy and the USA have been observing the 59.5-kilometre-long and four-metre-wide opening, which first appeared in September last year.

The split is thought to be the beginning of a long process that will eventually lead to eastern Ethiopia separating from the rest of Africa, with a sea forming in the gap in between.

The scientists say it will take around a million years for the fissure to develop into a new sea, with the Afar desert moving away from the rest of the continent by about two centimetres each year. However, the fissure's progress so far has been rapid, taking just three weeks to appear, after an earthquake on 14 September 2005 in a barren region called Boina, which is just under 1,000 kilometres northeast of the capital, Addis Ababa. …

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