New Ocean Forming In Africa.

new ocean africaEthiopian, 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.

Researchers from Britain, France, Italy and the United States 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 on Friday.

"We believe we have seen the birth of a new ocean basin," said Dereje of Addis Ababa University. "This is unprecedented in scientific history because we usually see the split after it has happened. But here we are watching the phenomenon."

The findings have been presented at a weeklong American Geophysical Union meeting taking place in San Francisco that ends Friday.

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