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Earth Science

Birth of a New African Ocean 261

Posted by kdawson
from the interesting-times-interesting-places dept.
Khemisty writes "Formation of an ocean is a rare event, one no scientist has ever witnessed. Yet this geophysical nativity is unfolding today in one of the hottest and most inhospitable corners of the globe. Africa is splitting apart at the seams. From the southern tip of the Red Sea southward through Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique, the continent is coming unstitched along a zone called the East African Rift." This stretching of the earth's crust has been going on for 20 million years, and within another 10 million the Red Sea will have broken through to create a new sea.
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Birth of a New African Ocean

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  • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @02:54PM (#25266031) Homepage
    blamemoses.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by idiotnot (302133)

      No, it's global warming's fault.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 05, 2008 @03:06PM (#25266155)

      blamemoses.

      Very true. How could this have been forming over the last 20,000,000 years when the earth is only 6,000 years old?

      --
      McCain/Palin '08!

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I hope you're being sarcastic...The earth is accepted by scientists to be 4.5 billion years old.

      • by caluml (551744)
        Question - that'll require a brave person to say yes to honestly: Does anyone here, really, really think that the Earth is only 6000 years old?
  • by gyrogeerloose (849181) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @02:56PM (#25266049) Journal

    Bet there would be one very impressive waterfall when the Red Sea finally breaks through.

  • by Provocateur (133110) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @02:58PM (#25266071) Homepage

    That 10 million years from now, the split will be complete. Slashdot will report this, and one /.er will complain, "It's a dupe! This story appeared 10 million years ago! What's up with the cyborg editors?"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 05, 2008 @03:00PM (#25266089)

    ... without relief maps.

    I don't want to read some art's grads long winded verbose description of something that can be shown to me in 2 diagrams.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lysergic.acid (845423)

      I don't want to read some art's grads long winded verbose description...

      as opposed to a long winded terse description?

  • Before long, someone will blame this on GlobalWarming.

    Mention of this split WILL show up in someone's eco-speech.
    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @03:12PM (#25266197) Journal

      Before long, someone will blame this on GlobalWarming.

      Mention of this split WILL show up in someone's eco-speech.

      And ideally they will get publicly called out on their idiocy

      Here's another article on the Afar region
      http://www.nj.com/south/index.ssf/2008/10/post.html [nj.com]
      (they cite this article http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4512244.stm [bbc.co.uk] )

      An 8-meter wide, 60-kilometer long rift (...) developed in the Afar desert region of north-eastern Africa in just 3 weeks. An earthquake on the 14th of September is said to have sparked the growing tear in the African desert, followed up by moderate tremors and then, finally, a volcanic eruption.

    • by WamBam (1275048) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @03:20PM (#25266265)
      I blame gay marriages, higher taxes and Obama Bin Laden. Sarah Palin will go maverick and fix this for us.
    • by ccguy (1116865) *

      Before long, someone will blame this on GlobalWarming.

      There are bets on williamhill.co.uk on this, but I gotta tell you, GlobalWarming pays 3.0 while a Bush friend offering to rebuild a proper Red Sea pays 1.05.

      Check on the 'what's going to happen first' section of political events for current odds.

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by clarkkent09 (1104833)
      Mention of this split WILL show up in someone's eco-speech.

      Not sure why people warning of global warming are such a popular target for snide comments, even if they do occasionally exaggerate or misunderstand the science involved. After all, the global warming is a reality and to quote a statement endorsed by "all of the national academies of science of the major industrialized countries" it is "is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic (man-made) greenhouse gas concentrations" (http://e
      • because straw man attacks in completely unrelated discussions are the only time when the global warming deniers can feign a winning argument--since they can't refute actual scientific evidence that supports global warming (like the currently accepted climate model). but i'm sure these armchair climatologists know much better than IPCC researchers and scientists.

        or maybe it's because any kind of social/political/environmental activism is unfashionable in the eyes of mainstream culture. it's much cooler to be

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Detritus (11846)
          Maybe it's because the average environmental activist is an idiot. Then again, the average human being is an idiot. For too many people, environmentalism is the new religion, filling the hole left by the decline of traditional religions.
      • by PachmanP (881352)
        Is it just me or does this seem like the wrong topic to cite wikipedia? First off I was taught you never cite wikipedia, and second, you certainly don't for controversial topics. I mean in theory some could replace your quote with "is very likely due to the observed increase in the penis-headedness of clarkkent09". As an aside, there really are times I wish I was a wikipedia mod...
        • the quote from wikipedia is just a convenient summary of a straightforward fact that such a statement exists and was indeed endorsed by just about ALL significant scientific organizations. this can be easily checked from other sources. a search for the first part of that sentence "very likely due to the observed increase" in top 10 results shows the same quote on sites such as national geographic, UN, US congress etc
  • by AndGodSed (968378) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @03:01PM (#25266101) Homepage Journal

    Well there goes property values...

    • Well there goes property values...

      I was going to reply about how suddenly turning the land into beachfront property would probably make the property values go up, but then I started thinking about how this would be just in time for Africa's coast to be the setting for Duke Nukem Forever.

  • by khallow (566160) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @03:02PM (#25266109)
    There's another ocean forming in the Gulf of California. It's the same story with a rift underneath. The rift actually runs up to Albuquerque in New Mexico.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Herkum01 (592704)

      Finally I am going to have beachfront property! (I live in Tucson, AZ BTW).

    • There's another ocean forming in the Gulf of California.

      There's also Lake Baikal in Siberia, the deepest fresh water body on Earth, also in the process of becoming an ocean.

      Conversely, the Black, Caspian and Mediterranean Seas are all remnants of the ancient Tethys Ocean.

      The Earth's crust is a fascinating, incredibly dynamic thing.

  • by gapagos (1264716) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @03:02PM (#25266123)

    Maybe His Noodly Appendage wants us to bring new sea pirates to fight back global warming in the hottest place on Earth?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 05, 2008 @03:23PM (#25266289)

    Africa is splitting apart at the seams.

    Do you really need to give the trolls encouragement to post yet another Goatse link?

  • Plate tectonics? (Score:3, Informative)

    by SupplyMission (1005737) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @03:29PM (#25266329)

    Haha, this is news to Slashdot?

    The African Rift Valley has been taught to first year geology students since plate tectonics were discovered decades ago.

    • I know, right? I realize some /.ers live under rocks, but seriously, I think I first learned about this in 6th or 7th grade science and had already been hearing about it on National Geographic specials and various PBS science shows for years before that. To see this story posted here as news made me, at first, think that something major had happened and the Great Rift Valley was finally filling with water.

      It's interesting information and all, but not exactly news. :-/

  • No one? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Minstrel Boy (787690) <kevin_stevens@hotmail.com> on Sunday October 05, 2008 @03:30PM (#25266341)

    "Formation of an ocean is a rare event, one no scientist has ever witnessed. Yet this geophysical nativity is unfolding today in one of the hottest and most inhospitable corners of the globe. Africa is splitting apart at the seams. From the southern tip of the Red Sea southward through Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique, the continent is coming unstitched along a zone called the East African Rift." This stretching of the earth's crust has been going on for 20 million years, and within another 10 million the Red Sea will have broken through to create a new sea.

    So actually *every scientist* has witnessed this event...
    KeS

  • This stretching of the earth's crust has been going on for 20 million years, and within another 10 million the Red Sea will have broken through to create a new sea.

    I hope they post this shit to youtube; that's gonna be really cool. Pressing reload already.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 05, 2008 @03:48PM (#25266475)

    It's in this part of eastern Africa [google.com], adjacent to the junction of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden in Ethiopia and Eritrea, and is known as the Afar Depression [wikipedia.org]. All this black stuff is Erte Ale [google.com], a volcano [wikipedia.org] that is almost continuously erupting. You can see the fresh black lava flows that historically oozed down the sides, and if you zoom in, you can see the red glow of the lava lake [google.com]. The salt pan areas [google.com] mentioned in the article are to the north (Danakil Depression), and are well below sea level (the Wikipedia page on the former settlement of Dallol [wikipedia.org] notes that Dallol is 50m above sea level, but that's the settlement site, not the lake/salt pan, which is lower). There are vast areas of stretched and faulted crust [google.com] to the southeast (the cliffs are the fault scarps), and Lake Assal [google.com], another salt lake 153 metres below sea level [wikipedia.org].

    This area is more impressive if you fly over it in Google Earth rather than Google Maps. Practically every cone-shaped peak you see in this area is a volcano that has been recently or not so recently active, and to the south you can clearly see the flanks of the East African Rift and the series of lakes [google.com] that occupy the rift valley as far south as Kenya [google.com], Tanzania and Mozambique, interspersed with volcanoes [google.com] all along the way. This is an awesome part of the world for geology.

    • by the_arrow (171557)

      And if you zoom out, and know it's there, you can actually see the rift. Or maybe I'm just imagining it all, and need todays first cup of coffee.

      • by jc42 (318812)

        Nah; you're not imagining it. If you use google maps' "Terrain" button, and zoom out so you can see all of eastern Africa, the Rift Zone is fairly obvious. Any decent topographic map should show it fairly clearly. Most of Africa is fairly old terrain, with the mountain ranges worn down. But the Rift Zone is new volcanic terrain, and is really irregular and jumbled.

        It's interesting to contemplate that this is where most of the early human fossils have been found. It's the main territory where our specie

  • afar rift home page (Score:5, Informative)

    by jefu (53450) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @03:53PM (#25266511) Homepage Journal

    For more information, you can try the Afar Rift Home Page [leeds.ac.uk] for the Afar Rift Project.

  • ... melting ice cap water.

    and even more important we find out that pulling in water from the salty oceans across alot of land makes teh water much more drinkable.

  • The frustrated weaponeer in me thinks "Hey! That's how we deal with ocean levels rising! Find some basins and nuke holes between them and oceans!"

    Heh.

  • This isn't news, unless you state it has created a new ocean today. Which if it has, we better put our heads between our legs and kiss our butts goodbye.
  • Afar (Score:3, Funny)

    by Lalo Martins (2050) on Sunday October 05, 2008 @08:21PM (#25268341) Homepage

    So that's what they mean when they say "travellers from Afar". I always suspected that was somewhere in Africa.

  • This will only make sense to a handful of people, but it's actually the fault of plug-ins, followed closely by George Bush, hardware, Freddie Mac, Gary Roberts, licensing, and "Other."

  • FGS! What a dumb story. Light relief at best.
    Of course the continents will change in the next 10 million years! Unless Armageddon comes first.

    TIP: If you have any seaside property, SELL NOW!!!

  • I learned this a decade or two ago in school.. That's old even by /. standards.

Parts that positively cannot be assembled in improper order will be.

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