LONDON, June 29 (UPI) — A new ocean is being born in Africa that will eventually split the continent in two, British researchers say.
Scientists at Britain’s Royal Society say a 40-mile crack in the Earth opened in Ethiopia in 2005 and has been growing ever since, the BBC reported Friday.
The crack will eventually became the sea bed of a new ocean that will divide Africa in two, though the process will require about 10 million years, scientists say.
Used to understanding planetary changes on timescales involving millions of years, scientists say the crack in the remote Afar region of Ethiopia is dramatic in the speed at which it is growing.
The 40-mile crack opened to a width of 22 feet in just 10 days, they say.
Ultimately, they say, the horn of Africa will split from the continent, and the crack, in a region below sea level, will fill with salt water.
“It will pull apart, sink down deeper and deeper and eventually … parts of southern Ethiopia, Somalia will drift off, create a new island, and we’ll have a smaller Africa and a very big island that floats out into the Indian Ocean,” said Dr. James Hammond, a seismologist from the University of Bristol.
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