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in Factcheck this by Journeyman (2.5k points)
This article claims that a new ocean is forming that will split Africa. I would like this fact checked because the reliability of this organization is not very high.

3 Answers

+1 vote
by Journeyman (3.4k points)
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I have found evidence explaining this claim more in-depth. It seems as though there are specific stretches in Africa across the countries of Ethiopia and Kenya which are forming into large cracks. This is due to the shifting of the tectonic plates underneath Africa. Also, it is estimated to happen within the next 5 to 10 million years, so it will occur in the far, far future. 

The article I found says, "This desolate expanse sits atop the juncture of three tectonic plates that are very slowly peeling away from each other, a complex geological process that scientists say will eventually cleave Africa in two and create a new ocean basin millions of years from now. For now, the most obvious evidence is a 35-mile-long crack in the Ethiopian desert."

It seems as though three tectonic plates, the Arabian plate, the Nubian plate, and the African plate, within the areas of Africa and Middle East are slowly moving away from each other. The reason why this is occurring is not currently known, but there are theories concerning superheated rocks such as magma are rising into the plates.

I also found an article from 2018 from USA Today which discusses the same sort of crack opening up in Kenya. It says, "The crack is located in a region known as the East African Rift Valley. It measures more than 50 feet in depth and 65 feet across, according to National Geographic."

I believe that the claim is slightly incorrect in attributing an unformed ocean in causing the split because it is actually the shifting of the tectonic plates that is causing the split and causing the ocean to be created. Based off of information found on National Geographic, as the tectonic plates move apart, they create rifts or basins which are then filled with water to form oceans. That means that the ocean is a byproduct of the shifting, not the cause of the split. 

It seems as though there is a plentiful amount of evidence with more coming on the way that proves this claim is true.




by Hero (18.7k points)
I liked how you went into detail and explained that the claim is true overall, but the detail regarding the ocean splitting the continent is factually false given that the tectonic plates are responsible.
+1 vote
by Journeyman (3.3k points)

Mashable SE Asia's claim that the continent of Africa will split as a result of a new ocean being formed have actually been claimed by more reliable news publications in the last three years (Mashable SE Asia). Notably, NBC news covered this claim in their 2020 article titled "The African continent is very slowly peeling apart. Scientists say a new ocean is being born." 

In this article, NBC journalist Denise Chow discusses how a crack in the Earth was discovered in Ethiopia in 2005. Alike to the article you supplied, the NBC article explained that this 35-mile crack was a split that was "equivalent to several hundred years of tectonic plate movement in just a few days." (NBC) As this was such a fast occurrence, geologists such as Cynthia Ebinger are still searching for direct answers and possible preventative measures. Ebinger's current theory on this event is "built-up pressure from rising magma [that] could be triggering the explosive events seen in the Afar region." In the wake of this split, more splitting will potentially reshape the continent of Africa.

Tectonic plates, explained by National Geographic as the "theory that explains how major landforms are created as a result of Earth’s subterranean movements" are a primary agent of this split (National Geographic). Three tectonic plates, the Arabian Plate, African Nubian, and African Somali, are currently all moving at different speeds and different directions away from each other. These movements are small, about 0.2 to 1 inch per year, but these shifts can make great differences in the surface of the Earth. 

Eventually, continental rifts become oceanic rifts. Christopher Moore, Ph.D. doctoral student at the University of Leeds interviewed by NBC, explained that this rifting process is already underway. On these splits in the Earth, oceanic crust forms preemptively before becoming an oceanic rift. According to Moore, oceanic crust has already been reported on this specific rift, as it can be measured to be a different composition and density from other crusts that may exist on similar rifts. With this discovery of the already forming oceanic crust, experts do believe that the shifting of these plates underneath the continent of Africa will eventually result in a new ocean forming in its wake.

With a claim as exceptional as this, it is understandable to question your sources - but in this case, your source was correct in its claim, backed up by other notable publications. IFL Science, another website who covered the claim, confirms that this change should not occur completely for another 5 to 10 million years (IFL Science). In this case, Africa's new landscape and ocean will not happen during our lifetimes.

Mashable EA Asia source (yours): https://sea.mashable.com/science/22731/an-entirely-new-ocean-is-forming-that-will-split-africa-in-two-scientists-say 

NBC source: https://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/african-continent-very-slowly-peeling-apart-scientists-say-new-ocean-n1234128

National Geographic Source: https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/plate-tectonics/

IFL Science Source: https://www.iflscience.com/africa-is-splitting-into-two-continents-and-may-open-a-vast-new-ocean-67848 

by Hero (18.7k points)
Nice work finding so many reputable sources!
0 votes
by Apprentice (1.3k points)

This claim can be considered true, however the reasoning behind it is critical to understand that it was to do with the structure and nature changes. Therefore this is not to occur in a short span of time but rather will take a long time for the split to occur. Although there will be some challenges faced due to this splitting, it will also bring in new opportunities. 

According to the study, the slow separation of the continent is linked to a 35-mile-long crack that formed in Ethiopia’s desert after an earthquake in 2005, and will eventually become a completely new sea.”



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