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Afar Rift of Ethiopia, the Massive Crack in Africa That Will Create a New Ocean

In a few million years, a new body of water will form in northern Ethiopia.

A new body of water may be budding in Africa. The Afar rift, a depression located in Northern Ethiopia, is slowly widening at an astounding rate of almost an inch every year. Given such rate, we can expect a new ocean in the African continent after a few million years.

A strong seismic activity that occurred at the Dabbahu volcano in 2005 resulted in a massive crack on the earth’s surface. The fissure, which is approximately 60 kilometers or 37 miles long, eight meters wide, and about two meters deep, opened up like a zipper on the landscape. A few months after, several crevices were discovered around the desert while the ground sunk at an estimated depth of 100 meters. Scientists also noted magma rising from the bottom of the newly-formed abyss at that time. Seemingly, what they witnessed was the birth of a basalt ocean floor.

The depression was created due to days of intense seismic activity in the area.

The central section of the crack that opened south of Dabbahu volcano.

A newly-exposed scarp formed after the Dabbahu seismic activity in 2005.

Apparently, the African continent used to consist of a single, enormous tectonic plate some thirty million years ago. However, a massive volume of lava surged from the Earth’s crust and sliced through the ground, creating depressions that turned into what we now know as the Red Sea.

At present time, Africa is composed of three plates, namely the Arabian, African, and Somalian plates. These three meet at a junction known as the Afar Triple Junction, and they move away from each other at around one to two centimeters every year. When the depression that separates the Arabian and the African plate becomes large enough, water from the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden will pour into it and a new body of water will be formed. It is estimated that this process will take 10 million years to complete.

An illustration of the Afar Triangle (shaded area) and a few of the historically active volcanoes (red triangles) that surround it.

Source: Wikipedia
How an ocean is formed: (1) rift formation; (2) water enters the depression; (3) continuous spreading process.

Currently, the highlands that surround the Danakil Depression provides a natural barrier, preventing water from the Red Sea from pouring in. But once the higher ground erodes or the tectonic plates move, nothing is stopping the flooding in of seawater.

The crack on Earth’s surface taken in 2005, as seen from above.

The fissures resemble those found at mid-ocean ridge.

Source: Graham Dawes

The Afar Rift is unique as it offers geologists a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to carefully study how an ocean is formed, a process that usually takes place underwater. Our generation may not be able to see the process through its end as we definitely won’t be around when the depression actually turns into a body of water, but at least future scientists will not grapple for answers if and when they decide to find out about the birth of a certain sea in northern Ethiopia.

Sci/Tech

China Is Willing to Spend $168 Million to Make It Rain!

China has resorted to cloud seeding to make it rain in areas where there are alarming water shortages.

With China topping the World Health Organization's list for deadliest outdoor pollution, it's no wonder they want to try to control their weather just to dampen the effects of pollution. And their latest endeavor? Paying millions to make it rain!

China is now in the process of using technology to help control the weather. This process is called cloud seeding, wherein an aircraft will fly above the clouds to sprinkle them with substances like silver iodide or dry ice. These substances will then induce nucleation. Nucleation is when water in the air is condensed and turned into ice, which then turns into rain.

These cloud seeding planes release substances onto clouds to induce rain.

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15 Breathtaking Images From the Outer Space, Captured by NASA

Thank you, NASA, for showing us what it’s like out there.

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For almost six decades now, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has brought us priceless knowledge about the outer space. From the controversial moon landing to the discovery of exoplanets and of galaxies far, far away - we have NASA to thank for. Sure we can't all relate to the maths and physics involved in NASA's operations, but they give us one thing that all of us can definitely relate to - magnificent images of the outer space.

NASA has been taking awesome photos of the universe through its advanced equipment and, mind you, it's not the kind of stuff that we see every day. So, without further ado, here are a few of the images that NASA has captured and has shared for all of us Earthlings to see in all its breathtaking, thousand-megapixels glory.

Check out these photos:
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If Humans Evolved From Apes, Why Do Apes Still Exist?

Why do chimpanzees still exist if we evolved from them?

It is a fairly common piece of scientific knowledge that humans evolved from monkeys. However, we only share 93% of our DNA with, say, a rhesus monkey. The more precise truth is that humans evolved from chimpanzees, with whom we share 99% of our DNA. Other than the homogeneity of DNA, scientists also have a wealth of evidence illustrating that chimpanzees and humans exhibit eerily similar physical and psychological behaviors.

Humans and chimpanzees are members of the order Primates. Physically, both species are huge, bipedal (chimps and bonobos, to some extent), highly dexterous and tailless. Neurobiologically, both species possess a large brain that, most importantly, shelters an exceedingly dense cortex, the part of our brain allegedly responsible for intelligence. Psychologically, both species illustrate a propensity to form complex social groups.

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