How Are the Earth’s Continents and Oceans Changing?

Geologists think that Africa could split into two separate land masses sometime within the next 10 million years. An international team of scientists has been documenting the effects of a continental rift that is forming as the Arabian and African plates drift apart. Specifically, they are studying a 37-mile-long (60 km) crack in the Earth’s crust in the Afar region of Ethiopia, which split open in 2005 during a volcanic eruption. Geologists expect the drift to continue to widen and lengthen. Eventually, it is expected to reach the east coast of Ethiopia and fill with seawater.

A new island in the Indian Ocean:

  • Dr. James Hammond, a seismologist from the University of Bristol, says that as the rift advances, “parts of southern Ethiopia 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.”
  • In 2005, the major chasm caused by volcanic activity occurred over a period of just 10 days. “The ferocity of what we saw during this episode stunned everyone,” said one scientist.
  • Geologists studying the event hope to better understand how the surface of the Earth is shaped, and how earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.
More Info: BBC

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