A Huge New Ocean May Open As Africa is Splitting Into Two Continents

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Africa is gradually splitting in two. Like anything in geology, it will take millions of years, but ultimately, a portion of East Africa will separate from the rest of the continent, most likely leading to the formation of a new ocean between the two land masses.

The East African Rift System (EARS), one of the world’s largest rifts that extends thousands of kilometers downward through several African nations, including Ethiopia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Tanzania, Malawi, and Mozambique, is linked to the colossal breakup.

According to a 2004 research, this rift system indicates that the African plate is splitting into two plates, the smaller Somalian plate and the larger Nubian plate, which are pulling apart at a super-slow snail’s pace of millimeters per year.

A Huge New Ocean May Open As Africa is Splitting Into Two Continents
Map of East Africa showing some of the historically active volcanoes (red triangles), as well the two parts of the African Plate (the Nubian and the Somalian) splitting along the East African Rift Zone. Image credit: USGS

Many claimed that the news of a fissure appearing in Kenya in 2018 was proof that Africa was splitting apart right before our eyes. Even though this shocking event was connected to the EARS, it’s a little misleading to use it as live proof of Africa’s vast division.

Most likely, this was merely a particularly concentrated manifestation of the valley’s ongoing rifting activity. The EARS has been in this state for approximately 25 million years, and the fracture in Kenya was a hint of what was happening elsewhere on the continent.

The world may appear very different in another 5 to 10 million years due to changes in the EARS, though. A new ocean is expected to form between the Nubian plate and the Somalian plate around this time. East Africa will be cut off by a vast sea, and the big continent of Africa will lose its eastern shoulder.

Even though it may seem odd, it’s important to keep in mind that the Earth’s surface is constantly changing; however, because it moves so slowly, human experience is unable to explain it.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The universe as we know it has only recently appeared. It’s a good idea to have a backup plan in case something goes wrong. Very slowly, however, these jigsaw parts move around on a timescale of millions of years.

Just consider the separation of South America and Africa 138 million years ago, which occurred during the Earth’s history. The east coast of South America and the west coast of Africa fit together like two jigsaw puzzle parts, beautifully illuminating how these continents were once united as one.

East Africa’s exit will merely add another chapter to this enormous geological novel. It doesn’t seem too hopeful that humankind will be around to witness any of these changes, but who knows.

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