Birth of an Ocean: The Evolution of Ethiopia's Afar Depression

Africa is splitting apart at the seams—literally. From the southern tip of the Red Sea southward through Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique, the continent is coming un stitched along a zone called the East African Rift.
Like a shirtsleeve tearing under a bulging bicep, the earth’s crust rips apart as molten rock from deep down pushes up on the solid surface and stretches it thin—sometimes to its breaking point. Each new slit widens as lava fills the gap from below.
This spectacular geologic unraveling, already under way for millions of years, will be complete when saltwater from the Red Sea floods the massive gash. Ten million years from now the entire rift may be submerged.



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