Thursday, December 29, 2005

Ocean-front property preview in Ethiopia

This story entertained us today on two levels.

Addis Ababa - A continental rifting process that normally takes millions of years to form has developed over a span of seven weeks in the Afar region of northeastern Ethiopia.

It was a close study, using radar interferometry, of an earth rupture developing into a rare axial rift zone -- a future possible ocean basin.

First, the idea that a process of continental rifting that should take "millions of years" is occuring in a matter of weeks is quite compelling. Who'd a thunk a thing like that was possible, except maybe those crazy Creationists out there who still believe the God could cook up an entire universe in less than a week.

But there is a second level.

The series of quakes was first recorded at the AAU on September 14 in Da'ure, an area in the lowlands of the Western Ethiopia Escarpment that stretches from the central part of the country to the Dahlak Islands of Eritrea in the Red Sea.

The volcanic activity, recorded at N 12.651 degrees longtitude and E 40.519 degrees latitude, spewed ash for three continuous days and eventually numerous cracks appeared in the ground, spreading fear among the pastoralist inhabitants.

Pastoralist inhabitants? You gotta love the word choice. Ghion Hagos, the author, surely must mean "farmers," right?

Bottom line, according to the scientist-priests, who are once again sure they know what is going on (?) is that a 60-kilometer stretch of Ethiopia now finds itself with a 8-meter (24 ft.) gap down the middle.

Not to worry, the scientist-priests reassure us. It'll still take millions of years before the rift grows to an ocean basin.


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