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Startling photos show Africa splitting apart as new ocean forms

Startling photos show Africa splitting apart as new ocean forms

The sheer size of the cracks are hard to comprehend.

Photos have emerged showing the continent of Africa splitting apart and a new ocean forming.

New photographs have surfaced showing just how deep the damage actually is as parts of Africa are separating and a new ocean is forming between them.

Two areas of land in Kenya have began to separate over the past years, causing the two sections of earth to be so far apart that an entire new ocean will run through the cracks in the future.

The cracks are so large that they've separated highways.

If this separation continues to spread, it's believed that Zambia and Uganda could have their own coastlines one day.

Scientific research into the cracks, named the East African Rift, means that millions of years from now there could be an entirely new ocean. A journal known as the Geophysical Research Letters means that experts are able to pinpoint exactly where the crack began, showing that the borders of three tectonic plates have been gradually moving away from each other.

The discovery shows that the crack, which is currently 35 miles long, first appeared back in 2005 in the Ethiopian deserts.

Christopher Moore, a Ph.D. doctoral student at the University of Leeds, told NBC News: “This is the only place on Earth where you can study how continental rift becomes an oceanic rift.”

Moore used satellite radar technology to monitor the volcanic activity in the East African region that's most commonly associated with the continent’s gradual breakup.

The crack is currently 30 miles long and steadily growing.

The crack sits at the borders of the boundaries of the African, Arabian and Somali tectonic plates.

For over 30 million years, the Arabian plate has been slowly shifting away from the African continent, with the gap growing at such a subtly steady rate that it's not visible by looking at it. The Arabian plate is moving away from Africa at a rate of roughly one inch per year.

It’s slower for both the African and Somali plate though, as they are reported to be breaking away at an rate of around half an inch to 0.2 inches every year.

It’s thought that the gap will continue to widen in the future, and see East Africa form its own separate continent.

Marine geophysicist and professor emeritus at the University of California, Ken Macdonald says: "With GPS measurements, you can measure rates of movement down to a few millimetres per year.

“As we get more and more measurements from GPS, we can get a much greater sense of what’s going on.

"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 small continent.”

Featured Image Credit: BBC