Africa, the second largest continent in the world, is slowly splitting into two parts due to geological activity. The East African Rift System, a series of geologic faults, is causing the African continent to split into two plates, the Nubian and Somali plates, which could lead to the formation of a new ocean. In this research paper, we will explore the current state of the geological changes in Africa, the potential impact of a new ocean, and the scientific research behind it.
The East African Rift System
The East African Rift System is a network of geological faults that runs from Syria in the Middle East to Mozambique in southern Africa, stretching over 4,000 miles (1). It is one of the few places on Earth where an active continental rift is visible above sea level. The rift system began forming around 25 million years ago and is still expanding at a rate of 2.5 centimeters per year (2).
The Splitting of Africa
The East African Rift System is causing the African continent to split into two plates, the Nubian and Somali plates. The Nubian plate, which includes most of Africa, is moving westward while the Somali plate, which includes Somalia and parts of Ethiopia and Kenya, is moving eastward (3). This movement is creating tension and pressure along the rift, causing volcanic activity and earthquakes.
New Ocean Formation
The splitting of the African continent has raised the possibility of a new ocean forming between the two plates. Scientists predict that it could take tens of millions of years for the new ocean to form, as the separation of the plates is currently happening at a rate of only a few millimeters per year (4).
Impact of a New Ocean
The formation of a new ocean between Africa and the Somali peninsula could have significant environmental and economic impacts. It could create new marine habitats and alter ocean currents, which could affect global weather patterns. Additionally, the discovery of oil and gas reserves in the region could lead to new opportunities for economic development (5).
Challenges of Research
The geological changes happening in Africa present many challenges for scientific research. The region is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity, which can make it difficult to study. Additionally, the slow rate of movement between the plates means that the process is occurring over a timescale that is difficult to observe and understand.
In conclusion, the geological changes happening in Africa are causing the continent to split into two parts, with the potential formation of a new ocean in the future. While this process is occurring over a very long timescale, it could have significant environmental and economic impacts. The scientific research into these changes presents many challenges, but could lead to a better understanding of the Earth’s geological processes.
- “East African Rift System.” National Geographic, 29 May 2019, www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/05/east-african-rift-system/.
- “East African Rift.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 19 Feb. 2021, www.britannica.com/place/East-African-Rift-System.
- “Africa is Splitting in Two – Here’s Proof.” National Geographic, 18 Jan. 2018, www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2018/01/africa-splitting-apart-geology-continental-drift/.
- “Africa is Splitting in Two: What Will Happen When the Continent Tears Apart?” The Independent, 6 Feb. 2018, www.independent.co.uk/news/science/africa-splitting-two-nature-geology-earth-tectonic-plates-volcanoes-a8193461.html.
- “New Ocean Could be Forming in Africa as Continent is Split in Two.” The Guardian, 31 Jan. 2018, www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/31/new-ocean-could-be-forming-in-africa-split-in-two-continental-plates.