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New Ocean forming in Ethiopia scientists say

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11/03/09

  11:54:15 pm, by admin, 1309 words  
Categories: Ethiopia, Science and Technology

New Ocean forming in Ethiopia scientists say

The rift in Afar, Ethiopia, that researchers say will eventually become a new ocean. Credit: University of Rochester

New Ocean forming in Ethiopia scientists say

Giant Crack in Africa Will Create a New Ocean

By LiveScience Staff

A 35-mile rift in the desert of Ethiopia will likely become a new ocean eventually, researchers now confirm.

The crack, 20 feet wide in spots, opened in 2005 and some geologists believed then that it would spawn a new ocean. But that view was controversial, and the rift had not been well studied.

A new study involving an international team of scientists and reported in the journal Geophysical Research Letters finds the processes creating the rift are nearly identical to what goes on at the bottom of oceans, further indication a sea is in the region's future.

The same rift activity is slowly parting the Red Sea, too.

Using newly gathered seismic data from 2005, researchers reconstructed the event to show the rift tore open along its entire 35-mile length in just days. Dabbahu, a volcano at the northern end of the rift, erupted first, then magma pushed up through the middle of the rift area and began "unzipping" the rift in both directions, the researchers explained in a statement today.

"We know that seafloor ridges are created by a similar intrusion of magma into a rift, but we never knew that a huge length of the ridge could break open at once like this," said Cindy Ebinger, professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Rochester and co-author of the study.

The result shows that highly active volcanic boundaries along the edges of tectonic ocean plates may suddenly break apart in large sections, instead of in bits, as the leading theory held. And such sudden large-scale events on land pose a much more serious hazard to populations living near the rift than would several smaller events, Ebinger said.

"The whole point of this study is to learn whether what is happening in Ethiopia is like what is happening at the bottom of the ocean where it's almost impossible for us to go," says Ebinger. "We knew that if we could establish that, then Ethiopia would essentially be a unique and superb ocean-ridge laboratory for us. Because of the unprecedented cross-border collaboration behind this research, we now know that the answer is yes, it is analogous."

The African and Arabian plates meet in the remote Afar desert of Northern Ethiopia and have been spreading apart in a rifting process — at a speed of less than 1 inch per year — for the past 30 million years. This rifting formed the 186-mile Afar depression and the Red Sea. The thinking is that the Red Sea will eventually pour into the new sea in a million years or so. The new ocean would connect to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, an arm of the Arabian Sea between Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula and Somalia in eastern Africa.

Atalay Ayele, professor at the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, led the investigation, gathering seismic data with help from neighboring Eritrea and Ghebrebrhan Ogubazghi, professor at the Eritrea Institute of Technology, and from Yemen with the help of Jamal Sholan of the National Yemen Seismological Observatory Center.

-----------------------

African Desert Rift Confirmed as New Ocean in the Making

University of Rochester

Geologists Show that Seafloor Dynamics Are at Work in Splitting African Continent

In 2005, a gigantic, 35-mile-long rift broke open the desert ground in Ethiopia. At the time, some geologists believed the rift was the beginning of a new ocean as two parts of the African continent pulled apart, but the claim was controversial.

Now, scientists from several countries have confirmed that the volcanic processes at work beneath the Ethiopian rift are nearly identical to those at the bottom of the world's oceans, and the rift is indeed likely the beginning of a new sea.


View Larger Map

The new study, published in the latest issue of Geophysical Research Letters, suggests that the highly active volcanic boundaries along the edges of tectonic ocean plates may suddenly break apart in large sections, instead of little by little as has been predominantly believed. In addition, such sudden large-scale events on land pose a much more serious hazard to populations living near the rift than would several smaller events, says Cindy Ebinger, professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Rochester and co-author of the study.

"This work is a breakthrough in our understanding of continental rifting leading to the creation of new ocean basins," says Ken Macdonald, professor emeritus in the Department of Earth Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and who is not affiliated with the research. "For the first time they demonstrate that activity on one rift segment can trigger a major episode of magma injection and associated deformation on a neighboring segment. Careful study of the 2005 mega-dike intrusion and its aftermath will continue to provide extraordinary opportunities for learning about continental rifts and mid-ocean ridges."

"The whole point of this study is to learn whether what is happening in Ethiopia is like what is happening at the bottom of the ocean where it's almost impossible for us to go," says Ebinger. "We knew that if we could establish that, then Ethiopia would essentially be a unique and superb ocean-ridge laboratory for us. Because of the unprecedented cross-border collaboration behind this research, we now know that the answer is yes, it is analogous."

Atalay Ayele, professor at the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, led the investigation, painstakingly gathering seismic data surrounding the 2005 event that led to the giant rift opening more than 20 feet in width in just days. Along with the seismic information from Ethiopia, Ayele combined data from neighboring Eritrea with the help of Ghebrebrhan Ogubazghi, professor at the Eritrea Institute of Technology, and from Yemen with the help of Jamal Sholan of the National Yemen Seismological Observatory Center. The map he drew of when and where earthquakes happened in the region fit tremendously well with the more detailed analyses Ebinger has conducted in more recent years.

Ayele's reconstruction of events showed that the rift did not open in a series of small earthquakes over an extended period of time, but tore open along its entire 35-mile length in just days. A volcano called Dabbahu at the northern end of the rift erupted first, then magma pushed up through the middle of the rift area and began "unzipping" the rift in both directions, says Ebinger.

Since the 2005 event, Ebinger and her colleagues have installed seismometers and measured 12 similar—though dramatically less intense—events.

"We know that seafloor ridges are created by a similar intrusion of magma into a rift, but we never knew that a huge length of the ridge could break open at once like this," says Ebinger. She explains that since the areas where the seafloor is spreading are almost always situated under miles of ocean, it's nearly impossible to monitor more than a small section of the ridge at once so there's no way for geologists to know how much of the ridge may break open and spread at any one time. "Seafloor ridges are made up of sections, each of which can be hundreds of miles long. Because of this study, we now know that each one of those segments can tear open in a just a few days."

Ebinger and her colleagues are continuing to monitor the area in Ethiopia to learn more about how the magma system beneath the rift evolves as the rift continues to grow.

Additional authors of the study include Derek Keir, Tim Wright, and Graham Stuart, professors of earth and environment at the University of Leeds, U.K.; Roger Buck, professor at the Earth Institute at Columbia University, N.Y.; and Eric Jacques, professor at the Institute de Physique du Globe de Paris, France.

102 comments

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 >>

Comment from: lulataw [Visitor]
lulataw

It would be nice if this new ocean created between Eritrea and Ethiopia.Ethiopia forever gets peace from these Eritrean blood suckers.

11/04/09 @ 00:06
Comment from: Mesfin [Visitor]
Mesfin

That means we are going to have ports once again !
wow

11/04/09 @ 01:04
Comment from: selam [Visitor]
selam

when is this going to happen? a million years from now cause i wouldn’t belive it and wouldn’t care. but if it is in near future, it would be cool.

11/04/09 @ 01:32
Comment from: Yeha [Visitor]
Yeha

Wow that is another way to get access to the sea.But when that would actually happening here? needs lots of research.May be the dead head diaspora can tell us how otherwise.Yeha

11/04/09 @ 01:33
Comment from: Abirerm [Visitor]
Abirerm

Good news for Ethiopians, Bad news for sheabia bondoch.
Sure it will happen Isaysses will hung up them selves.

11/04/09 @ 02:10
Comment from: Chala from Addis [Visitor]
Chala from Addis

ye ethiopia amlak, as they say, this land called ethiopia is indeed a land of miracle, . how is it out of two world warsin human history the second one happed to come in a very crucial time to save ethiopia Italians and thieir Eritrean Askaris who conspired to landlock ethiopia and now God seems to find it’s own way to unlock this landof miracle. Ethiopia is indeed a land of miracle. I feel sorry for the bastards from Mereb Melash.

11/04/09 @ 02:48
Comment from: chembalala [Visitor]
chembalala

lamm alegn be semay …wetetuanem allay!

11/04/09 @ 03:05
Comment from: Melese Zenawi [Visitor]
Melese Zenawi

Don’t be rush if it happens pretty soon my mother country eritrea will have her third port. a gift from a darling son

11/04/09 @ 03:10
Comment from: Kagnew [Visitor]
Kagnew

Ethiopia is not land locked! It is rather Meles-locked country.

11/04/09 @ 03:40
Comment from: chunaaa [Visitor]
chunaaa

Ahahahaaaaaaaa,we’re gonna get the port which meles forbids us!!!!!!!

11/04/09 @ 04:12
Comment from: kebe [Visitor]
kebe

I see all the comments are nasty. why yuu comment on sth u do not have idea. Please go to school. That is the nly thing ethiopia needs! learn and think logically!
Cheresku

11/04/09 @ 04:34
Comment from: Extraterrestrial [Member]  

God is planning to relocate the bastard state of arabism and conlonialism WHICH IS WELCOME.

11/04/09 @ 05:29
Comment from: straight shooter [Visitor]
straight shooter

Not exactly sure what “rift activity” and “shifting of plates” mean but “Meret Menqetket” means the righteous becoming subjects to the wicked (YeBelayu YeBetach, Yetachu Yebelay), and “Rehab Yihonal” - Ewnetenga Sew (Tsadkanotch)Yetefubet Zemen. Dramatic science (Manes) aside, are we being shown a sign?

Becoming Human Part 1

NOVA First Steps: Six million years ago, what set our ancestors on the path from ape to human? Aired November 3, 2009 on PBS. http://xrl.us/bf2p6w

Part 1, “First Steps,” examines the factors that caused us to split from the other great apes. The program explores the fossil of “Selam,” also known as “Lucy’s Child.” Paleoanthropologist Zeray Alemseged spent five years carefully excavating the sandstone-embedded fossil. NOVA’s cameras are there to capture the unveiling of the face, spine, and shoulder blades of this 3.3 million-year-old fossil child. And NOVA takes viewers “inside the skull” to show how our ancestors’ brains had begun to change from those of the apes. The other programs in the “Becoming Human” series are Part 2: “Birth of Humanity,” which profiles the earliest species of humans, and Part 3: “Last Human Standing,” which examines why, of various human species that once shared the planet, only our kind remains.

http://xrl.us/bf2p6s

11/04/09 @ 05:46
Comment from: Beriso [Visitor]
Beriso

the thing I hate about Ethiopia is just being a land locked, and also as you have said it even apart away from Eritrea is also a good idea, because as it is nightmare to me tHat when we are going to have a port and a seashore, it also is a nightmare tO ME to wait the time that we are going to live with out the influence of this rubbish, the smallest,the tiny, cockroach people of Eritrea, but when it is going to happen! when and when, let me backed my bag just to recreation and swim in the newly Ethiopian sea, just let us call it ETHIO SEA

11/04/09 @ 06:21
Comment from: shabia eritrea [Visitor]
shabia eritrea

this is rest for ur dreams so your death rate will decrease
u dont need to come to eritrea u will have ur own port and we dont need to kill u no no more unless u dream again for having the smallest and neat eritrea with asssab.ur blood will be reservedand our bullets will be thrown to ur new ocean and port.a good dream congratulations for the dreamers.

11/04/09 @ 06:58

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