Earth-shattering proof of continents on the move
Topographic relief of the 60 km-long Dabbahu rift segment within the Afar Depression (Credit: Cynthia Ebinger)
This is a rather striking series of photographs and images of the Dabbahu rift segment within the Afar Depression in the remote Afar desert of Northern Ethiopia. Here, two mighty shelves of continental crust – the African and Arabian plates – meet and are tearing the landscape apart.
The most dramatic event came in September 2005, when hundreds of deep crevices appeared within a few weeks, and parts of the ground shifted eight metres, almost overnight. More than two billion cubic metres of rising molten rock – magma – had seeped into a crack between the African and Arabian tectonic plates, forcing them further apart. This rift is giving an international team of scientists a unique opportunity to plot the progress of continents on the move.
Enhanced Landsat Thematic Mapper image of the Dabbahu rift segment prior to the September 2005 events
(Credit: Ellen Wolfenden)
I recommend viewing the images large – I’m now using the dazzlingly colourful one above as desktop background. For more information see this article (from which I pinched some of the text for this post).