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August 2 2014

A Superplume Is the Reason Africa Is Splitting Apart

Africa is splitting in two. The reason: a geologic rift runs along the eastern side of the continent that one day, many millions of years in the future, will be replaced with an ocean. Scientists have argued for decades about what is causing this separation of tectonic plates. Geophysicists thought it was a superplume, a giant section of the earth's mantle that carries heat from near the core up to the crust. As evidence, they pointed to two large plateaus (one in Ethiopia and one in Kenya) that they said were created when a superplume pushed up the mantle. Geochemists were not able to confirm that theory.

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