Africa Is Separating Into Two Continents And Creating A New Ocean With It

In 2005, a series of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions caused Ethiopia to split open. Now, geologists studying the site believe that the enormous fault line may actually break apart Africa into two continents, and create a brand new ocean with it, something that has never before been observed.

Source: Amusing Planet

The original split in Ethiopia occurred in September of 2005. Hundreds of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes created something of the ‘perfect storm’. But millions of years prior to this split, there had been bubbling molten rock beneath Earth surface in what is known as the Afar Depression.

Source: Everything Everywhere

The Afar Depression is an uninhabitable space of desert with dangerously high temperatures. The meeting of the Afar Depression and the split in the Earth in Africa caused a fissure 40 miles long and up to 25 feet wide in some sections. Essentially, the land was broken into two.

Source: UofR

Geologist Cynthia Ebinger explained that it is not entirely uncommon for the Earth to split in this way in the ocean, but it’s entirely unprecedented on land: “We had never seen something like this… This kind of thing happens regularly on the seafloor, but it was the first known example on land”.


This rare geological phenomenon dubbed the East African Rift System (EARS) is fascinating scientists. A peer-reviewed study of the split confirmed that the fissure is separating further and further every year.

Source: World A

The fissure continues to separate as a result of the Somali tectonic plate and Nubian tectonic plate drifting apart. The study published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters confirmed that the plates separate a few millimetres each year.

Source: Wikipedia

Ken Macdonald, a marine geophysicist explained how this fissure can actually result in a brand new ocean. He stated, “The Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea will flood in over the Afar region and into the East African Rift Valley and become a new ocean and that part of East Africa will become its own separate continent”. Some landlocked countries in Africa such as Ethiopia and Uganda may in fact come to know a coastline!

Source: Kid News

However, with the plates only moving a few mere millimetres each year, the continent will not actually split into two for another 5 to 10 million years. So we will likely not be here to experience a new ocean forming and joining the ranks of the Pacific, Atlantic, Arctic, and Indian, scientists agree that there will one day be a new ocean and the continents will be changed for the first time in millions of years.