Saturday, December 10, 2005

Cradle of Humanity, the Rift Zone in Africa, Opens Wider After This Week's Earthquake


By Elaine Meinel Supkis

Scientists locate new major fissure in the earth developing rapidly where humanity first walked, in the Somali/Ethiopian rift valley. Saudi Arabia is acting like a great knife, shaving off East Africa which is curling around the Middle Eastern landmass.

Probable future of coastline of Africa, give or take 10 million years.
From Yahoo:
Ethiopian, American and European researchers have observed a fissure in a desert in the remote northeast that could be the "birth of a new ocean basin," scientists said Friday.

Researchers from Britain, France, Italy and the U.S. have been observing the 37-mile long fissure since it split open in September in the Afar desert and estimate it will take a million years to fully form into an ocean, said Dereje Ayalew, who leads the team of 18 scientists studying the phenomenon.

The fissure, now 13 feet wide, formed in just three weeks after a Sept. 14 earthquake in a barren region called Boina, some 621 miles north east of the capital, Addis Ababa, said Dereje.
It is almost the anniversary of one of the greatest quakes registered by modern equipment. It was major in many ways, the numbers of people killed, the destruction, the changes in the earth's geology. It was not only great on the Richter Scale, it was huge on length, opening a rift over 150 miles long under the ocean running alongside Indonesia.

So now another rift valley drops deeper, as the rest of the crust readjusts. There are several rift valleys on the earth, they are easily located because they are below sea level. Death Valley, the Dead Sea and the Rift Valley in Africa are the major rift valleys and all seem poised to gape even deeper this year. Of course, I am talking again about the inevitable San Andreas quake as California readjusts. There is no avoiding this hazard.

Japan has been having the shakes. Volcanoes are sprining into action such as the one on the small island of the Vanatu chain. It, too, is only a matter of time, five years or less, for a major eruptiion somewhere. Even St. Helen's has hiccupped this year.

Here are some interesting maps speculating about future tectonic plate movements:
From History of the Universe

This shows one possibility with Australia pushing into Alaska. This is far, far future stuff. Here is another map from University of Texas
Neither of these seem right to me. I believe Australia will cartwheel into Japan. Why? Here is a map I drew showing rift valleys and places where the continental pressure is squeezing everything upwards.

If the Mediterranean basin is going to disappear and the Alps rise like the Himalayans, this upwelling will extend across Russia. India will continue to push into Asia but since it has slowed down, the activity is moving to the China Sea which is shrinking, not growing, namely, Australia is already crowding the neighborhood and will increasingly do this until the last drop of water is wrung out in another 100 million years.

By then, we probably won't care much about sea lane changes!

A movie from Berkeley where you can play with tectonic plate movements in your spare time.

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