Posted by: drew | March 16, 2006

A Continent Splits Apart

PangaeaThis fascinates me. You know how the continents of the earth used to be one giant continent, named Pangaea? Then, over billions of years, the continent split apart into the shapes we see today of the Americas, Africa, Eurasia, etc.

Well, today in Africa’s Afar Triangle, we are witnessing a continent splitting apart to form a new ocean.

Spiegal Online has this story.

Normally new rivers, seas and mountains are born in slow motion. The Afar Triangle near the Horn of Africa is another story. A new ocean is forming there with staggering speed — at least by geological standards. Africa will eventually lose its horn.

 A view of the East African Rift System, which is already largely below sea level. Geologist Dereje Ayalew and his colleagues from Addis Ababa University were amazed — and frightened. They had only just stepped out of their helicopter onto the desert plains of central Ethiopia when the ground began to shake under their feet. The pilot shouted for the scientists to get back to the helicopter. And then it happened: the Earth split open.

Crevices began racing toward the researchers like a zipper opening up. After a few seconds, the ground stopped moving, and after they had recovered from their shock, Ayalew and his colleagues realized they had just witnessed history. For the first time ever, human beings were able to witness the first stages in the birth of an ocean.

This gives me the same feeling I got when I saw the first images from the Martian Rovers.



  1. i need to go there and name that new continent

  2. And what would you name it?

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