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Infant Ocean Basin

February 1, 2007

This is great. The quality and amount of data we are collecting these days regarding the movements of the tectonic plates is fantastic. This article in Science Daily talks about a study looking the East African Rift Valley….a proto-mid-ocean ridge.

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.

These researchers are going to sample this new rock. Because this process typically occurs at mid-ocean ridges, it is inherently challenging to take samples. The East African rift is in a very early stage of developing into an ocean spreading center. Once the relatively thin and dense oceanic crust begins to form, the basin will eventually fill with the ocean to create a narrow seaway.

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