There was once a time when the continents of the world were merged into one massive supercontinent, called the Pangaea. The continental drift theory supports the cause as to why it has broken apart into smaller pieces into what we now know as the seven continents.
Recent observations have discovered unusual tectonic plate movements in the African continent. According to satellite recordings, there is a very likely chance that somewhere in East Africa, the land may be slowly splitting into two from underground. Though it will still take many more years before this actually happens, scientists are convinced that with this phenomenon, a new ocean will emerge. As of now, there is a crack in the desert of Ethiopia that is 35 miles long, which serves as proof of the continental movement. Studies conducted in the UK have used satellite radars that link volcanic activity in Eastern Africa to the split.
History has shown that this slow, yet constant activity under the Earth’s crust has given birth to the Red Sea and the Aden Gulf, due to the Arabian plate being pulled away from the African continent. It is still unclear as to what is the main factor that forces this rift. There are theories saying that there are hot volcanic rocks on the rise in the mantle of East Africa that could be causing it.
Researchers like Cynthia Ebinger of Tulane University has been doing field studies in the area, which has already been dubbed as ‘Dante’s inferno’ because of the extreme temperatures. Apparently, the region’s 35-mile crack has been a hotspot for geophysical studies that to her, equated to hundreds of years’ worth of tectonic plate movement.
With the help of satellite findings and field investigations, further studies could bring us closer to some answers. What we know, for now, is that over time, the two bodies of water surrounding the region (the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden) will spill over the region, forming into a new ocean and make the other fragment of land into a separate mini-continent.
Researchers are positive that the emerging land is definitely oceanic because there are very noticeable differences regarding composition and density when compared to continental crust.