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Dec 12 / Dave Schumaker

Geologists Witness Possible Birth of an Ocean Basin

Fissure in the Afar desertA rapidly growing fissure in the Afar Desert of Africa (part of the Great Rift Valley) could signal the beginnings of a new ocean basin according to researchers from Addis Ababa University.

“We believe we have seen the birth of a new ocean basin,” said Dereje of Addis Ababa University. “This is unprecedented in scientific history because we usually see the split after it has happened. But here we are watching the phenomenon.”


“It’s amazing,” the BBC quoted one of the Afar researchers, Cindy Ebinger of the Royal Holloway University of London, as saying in San Francisco. “It’s the first large event we’ve seen like this in a rift zone since the advent of some of the space-based techniques we’re now using, and which give us a resolution and a detail to see what’s really going on and how the earth processes work.”

This page from the Global Volcanism Program has more information, as well as pictures.

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