Birth of an Ocean: Africa Splits Apart

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This Catalyst article describes how, as two tectonic plates separate, wide fissures appear in the ground in northern Ethiopia. Eventually a new ocean will form in the area affected. The Earth’s surface is not stable or permanent. The tectonic plates that form our planet’s outer crust are constantly moving around, bumping past each other along fault zones, crashing to create mountain belts and being pulled apart to create ocean basins. Normally these movements are pretty slow, a few millimetres per year, but in 2005 in the remote Afar desert in Ethiopia a 60 km long section of a plate boundary cracked open by 8 metres in only a few days.

This article is from Catalyst: GCSE Science Review 2010, Volume 21, Issue 2.

Catalyst is a science magazine for students aged 14-19 years. Annual subscriptions to print copies of the magazine can be purchased from Mindsets.

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