Will Earth Get A New Ocean? Massive Faultline In Africa Sparks Speculation

The movement of tectonic plates is a fundamental geological process that has shaped the Earth's surface for over millions of years. These massive, rigid slabs of rock, which make up the Earth's lithosphere, are in constant motion, driven by the forces generated deep within the planet. But scientists have discovered a colossal fissure tearing through the southeastern part of Africa that is splitting the continent into two and could also pave way for the Earth's sixth ocean to emerge.

The planet currently has five distinct oceans - Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Antarctic and Arctic. A sixth ocean, if formed, could lead to massive changes in the planet's geography.

Known as the East African Rift System (EARS), it was first discovered in 2005, but believed to have initiated around 22 million years ago, according to earth.com.

However, a significant surge of activity over the past few decades has spurred a renewed scientific interest in the faultline.

The East African Rift is a result of two tectonic plates - the Somali plate in the east and Nubian plate in the west. These two tectonic plates have been drifting apart, causing the fissure to deepen.

Jerusalem Post said a similar phenomenon was observed millions of years ago when South America and Africa were divided into different continents.

A peer-reviewed study detailing the split was published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters. It said that the plates separate a few millimetres per year.

Interesting points have emerged from the deepening fissure. Experts say that countries currently landlocked in Africa, such as Ethiopia and Uganda, will see the introduction of a coastline.

"The Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea will flood in over the Afar region and into the East African Rift Valley and become a new ocean, and that part of East Africa will become its own separate small continent," Ken Macdonald, a marine geophysicist and a professor emeritus at the University of California, told Mashable.

However, researchers said that the continent will not completely split for another 5 to 10 million years.


SOURCE: https://www.ndtv.com/science/will-earth-get-a-new-ocean-massive-faultline-in-africa-sparks-speculation-5366960