Wednesday, 30 Jun, 2010 Environment

A New Ocean Will Split the African Continent in 10 Million Years


According to a group of researchers from the University of Leeds, within 10 million years the African continent will split and a new ocean will form.

The team developed a 3D interactive movie that is based on their model of the Afar rift in Ethiopia. The model illustrates how Africa is cracking open above and below the ground.

In 2005, in the Afar rift a segment of plate boundary, being about 40 miles long, cracked open by 8 meters in just 10 days. About two-and-a-half cubic kilometers of molten rock filled the gap. From then on the crack has been continuously increasing in width and length.

Scientists that are currently studying the phenomenon consider that in the future a new ocean may appear, splitting the African continent, informs BBC.

Now researchers have the possibility to carry out various experiments in the region and figure out the processes that take place on the surface of the Earth. "It is helping us to understand and mitigate natural hazards like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions," outlined Dr Tim Wright of the University of Leeds School of Earth and Environment.

It is worth mentioning that the three-dimensional movie will be shown this week at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in London.

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