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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
From the Times -

Force of nature parts the Red Sea

Geologists believe they are witnessing the creation of an ocean

THE Red Sea is parting in a way that could create a new ocean basin and redraw the map of Africa and Arabia.
A huge rift that appeared last year along a fault in the Afar desert in Ethiopia, where the African and Arabian tectonic plates meet, has provided the strongest indication yet of how the plates are separating to create a new sea.

Geologists believe that they are witnessing a tectonic process similar to the one that formed the Atlantic Ocean, as adjacent plates push apart over millions of years to alter the shape of the continents.

While the precise course of this continental drift is difficult to predict, the movement of the fault promises eventually to widen the Red Sea between Africa and the Arabian peninsula and extend it southwards, cutting a marine inlet inland.

Eritrea and northeast Ethiopia, which are joined to Africa but lie on the Arabian Plate, would become marooned and would form a new island.

The world’s continents are not static, as was once thought, but instead rest on tectonic plates that shift around with the movements of molten rock, or magma, beneath the Earth’s crust, joining at unstable fault lines.

In some faults, the plates rub against each other in opposite directions, like gears, and in others a plate disappears beneath another in what is known as a subduction zone. The Afar fault is a third variety, a spreading fault, in which magma bubbles up through the surface and pushes two plates apart.

The most celebrated of these spreading faults is the MidAtlantic Ridge, which pushes the North and South American plates away from the Eurasian and African plates. It widens the Atlantic by a centimetre or two each year, similar to the rate at which fingernails grow.

For several million years a similar process has been slowly separating the African and Arabian plates, forming the Red Sea in the north and the Great Rift Valley in East Africa.

The new research on the Afar fault, which is published today in the journal Nature, offers fresh insights into the process that could eventually form a new sea or ocean.

A team of geologists from Royal Holloway, University of London, the University of Oxford and Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia monitored a heavy period of activity in the fault during September last year, which included a volcanic eruption.

The scientists used data from the Envisat satellite to show that an 8-metre rift developed along a 37-mile (60km) stretch of the fault in just three weeks.

It is the first time that such a developing rift has been monitored by satellite in such detail, and shows how the spreading process does not take place smoothly, but in a series of sudden, large, rupture events.

The scientists, led by Cindy Ebinger, of Royal Holloway, and Tim Wright, of Oxford, established that as the rift was torn it was filled by magma bubbling up from chambers lying underneath two volcanoes at its northern end. This magma will eventually harden and, when submerged, will form a new ocean floor.

“It’s amazing,” Dr Ebinger said. “It is the first large event we have seen like this in a rift zone since the advent of some of the space-based techniques we are now using. These techniques give us a resolution and a detail to see what’s really going on and how the Earth’s processes work. The Afar region provides a unique study area for continental break-up and formation of new ocean basins.”

Derek Keir, of Royal Holloway, who also contributed to the research, said: “Every rift system has to evolve in stages, and the rift system in the Afar desert is proceeding as if it were a mid-ocean rift. We think it has the potential eventually to form an ocean.”


Rushie
 

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I believe it also stated that it'll take about a million years to reach that stage, so it's going to be a while before there's enough water there to sail on!
 

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I read somewhere that India is moving North by 150mm ( 6 inches )
per year .... and we mortals worry if sands and cliffs move.
We are not in control ....
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Absolute rubbish....most of India is already ensconsed in the UK....bloomin good curries though....
 

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If new plate is being created in the Red Sea/African Rift Valley then does this account for the destruction thats happening in Indonesia at the moment? I wonder
 

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I remember at school, being taken with the idea of the similar lines of
opposite continental coastlines, and asked the geography teacher
if it was possible they all fitted together once.... He made me look a
proper fool with his denials. After I left school, the talk about
continental drift and plate tectonics came to be, and I became
even more fascinted because my view was right after all.
Everything is on the move, there is nothing quiet about the ground
on which we stand.

Australia is moving Northwards by about an inch and a half a year.
With GPS it is now possible to monitor this more accurately than
before. Given time, it will all return to a form of Pangea. We will
never see it, but we can see the results all around with undersea
movement and tsunami, let alone the volcanic activity along the
folds. Even in Penzance and Marazion ( Mounts Bay ) we get
earthquakes. What makes it so intense here is the vast plate
of blue elvan stretched across the bay. What it must be like
on a plate fold I am not anxious to find out on a personal level.
My heartfelt sympathies go out to all in these areas.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Treeve,

Seeing St Michael's Mount disappear would be rather spectacular to say the least....God forbid it.

Where would all the Japs and Yanks go...?
 

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I thought Charleton Heston was still in the U.S.A. in charge of a lunatic fringe of gunmen.

fred

" where there's a will, there's a family argument "
 

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Charlton Heston is no longer president of the N.R.A. he can barely walk now, and Fred did you know Mr. Heston is of Scottish blood.
Nick.
 

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If you have to carry a gun in St. Louis, Mo. thanks for the early warning, won't be visiting.
Re Charleton Heston and Oldtimers disease, I don't wish him any harm or pain, as for being of Scottish blood, so was Peter Manuel.

fred

" I Got Stripes "
 
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