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Africa Being Split In Two by Plate Tectonics 

Africa Being Split In Two by Plate Tectonics  86

via ILFscience:

Reports are cropping up online that appear to show deep chasms, exacerbated by rainfall, in Kenya’s Narok County. One tear in the earth is reportedly 15 meters (50 feet) deep and 20 meters (66 feet) wide.

Speaking to the Daily Nation, a geologist has suggested that this odd phenomenon is the manifestation of “zones of weakness” within the region. Some of these cracks are new, but some are old ones previously buried in fresh volcanic ash, and heavy rains have suddenly washed the ash out and exposed them.

This has certainly brought some geological drama to the area, which has seen families evacuated tout suite. One family were having dinner at home when they were forced to flee after a new fissure opened up beneath their feet and reportedly cut their home in two.

So what exactly is going on here?

This part of Kenya is clearly showing some rather extreme-looking behavior at the surface, but don’t panic: This is possibly due to a highly localized expression of the valley’s regular rifting activity.

East Africa is breaking up. A huge tectonic plate boundary 5,000 kilometers (about 3,100 miles) long is running up along the eastern section of the continent, which is manifested at the surface as the East African Rift System (EARS), which has many beautiful nuances and complexities.

The African plate has split into the Somalian and Nubian tectonic plates, which are pulling away from each other, a process that began around 25 million years ago. The Arabian plate is also moving away, and the result is that the triple-junction rift network in the Afar region is shaped like a Y.

This active rift zone has an incredibly slow rate of spreading of a few millimeters per year on average. Ultimately, this means that around 10 million years from now, a new ocean will emerge as the EARS continues to tear East Africa apart.

Clearly, slow and steady wins the race here. The spreading rate varies across the rift, however, with some parts moving slower or faster than others.

There are several hypotheses touted as to why EARS began, with the most popular being that a superheated plume – or several smaller plumes – of mantle material is rising up into the crust beneath that very spot. Although one 2014 review paper said that “its deep origins remain poorly understood,” a single, massive plume is the most probable cause.

Either way, there are consequences to having an active rift zone.

Some parts of the region have subsided over the past few million years; others have been uplifted. The splitting has fragmented the region so acutely that it’s thought to have created tectonic microplates, like the Victoria and Rovuma plates, in its wake. The geochemistry beneath the EARS is also spectacularly bizarre, creating a range of otherworldly volcanoes.

Another consequence, of course, is the surficial activity noted in these reports.

Back in 2005, for example, an 8-meter (26-foot) gap opened across a 60-kilometer (37-mile) stretch in just 10 days. This crevasse was created when magma heading to Ethiopia’s Dabbahu volcano was diverted underground, which cooled, froze, and was forced up to the surface, causing a crack. It continued to grow because the EARS just keeps on rifting.

When it comes to the cracks in this part of Kenya, then, either a similar magmatic diversion event has occurred – after all, it does happen to be surrounded by several volcanoes – or there has been a sudden, probably brief jump in the local spreading rate.

Until more details emerge, however, this remains somewhat speculative.

Update: Dr James Hammond, a geophysicist at Birkbeck, University of London, told IFLScience that it’s unclear what this phenomenon represents.

“I don’t think this is related to magma injection, it’s not the same as Dabbahu. In Dabbahu, it was not a simple crack, but a whole series of faults that moved,” he said. “Equally, I’m not sure a local increase in spreading rate is right.”

“I am not sure what has caused this,” he added. “Were any earthquakes felt? If not then it seems unlikely to be tectonic or volcanic.”


Planet Earth

Polar vortex: “wild” winter is coming in the US, Northern Europe and East Asia after the 16th of January

Polar vortex: "wild" winter is coming in the US, Northern Europe and East Asia after the 16th of January 99

In the upper atmosphere above the North Pole, experts saw a rapidly swirling vortex of cold air that could bring severe frosts to the United States, Northern Europe and East Asia. Serious cold snap and snowy weather are expected after January the 16th.

Snowfalls and a cold snap hit South Korea since the start of 2021, hitting historic snow maximums and temperatures. In the country, for the first time since 1964, television and newer communications are sending people cold snap warnings:

The situation is similar in Japan, where a new snow storm hit historic highs:

On January 7, the thermometer In Beijing dropped to -20 degrees Celsius, breaking the 1966 record. In other regions of China, the temperature is also not sugar, and you can only move around in special uniforms:

The cold even reached Taiwan, where the temperature in some areas dropped below freezing point, snow poured down and people realized that rice terraces can be used as a ski jump:

Even more snow went to Spain, where on January 6, 2021, a temperature of -34.1 ° C was recorded – the lowest on record. After that, a snow storm hit the country, which has not been seen for 80 years:

The same thing happens in Canada and in the northern states of the United States:

It seems that after a stratospheric warming, the subpolar vortex began to split:

The vortex itself is a standard phenomenon. However, this time experts were surprised at his movement. It is possible that in the near future it will be divided into two parts. 

Scientists associate the strange behavior with the changed climate in the Arctic, which has become warmer. From September to December, the amount of ice cover decreased significantly.

The polar vortex is a low-pressure region located in the stratosphere and filled with cold air. When the jet stream of air that holds the vortex weakens, the low pressure area moves south. 

As the ice shrinks, more moisture will move inland. It will turn to snow, so snowfalls are expected. Snow, in turn, reflects heat, leading to a cold snap.

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Planet Earth

Hospital in Naples was evacuated after a new, huge sinkhole appeared

Hospital in Naples was evacuated after a new, huge sinkhole appeared 100

Eyewitnesses said they heard a loud crash at dawn when a huge hole in the ground formed outside the Ponticelli Ospedale del Mare hospital in eastern Naples.

Early in the morning of January 8, 2021, a sinkhole occurred in the parking lot of a clinic in Naples. The depth of the formed cavity is about 20 meters, the total area of ​​the hole is about 2,000 square meters.

No casualties were found at the scene; firefighters say the sinkhole “affected an area of ​​about 500 square meters” and engulfed several cars parked near the hospital.

As the press writes and as a little can be seen from the videos, rescuers and firefighters were running around the pit together with the governor of the area.  But who should be there in the forefront are Italian geologists, since Naples stands in the very center of the volcanic system known as the Phlegrean Fields.

If the surface collapsed, moreover – the surface reinforced with concrete and reinforced from below with some kind of communications, then we are talking about serious soil deformations caused by the activity of magma.

Italy has been in doubt since the summer of 2020, because swarms were observed there in very atypical places in May, and according to the forecasts of old Italian seismologists, who had witnessed many strong earthquakes, it should have boomed in the August region.

Fortunately, nothing bad happened to Italy and there was no big earthquake. But, since there are swarms, it means that something is being prepared, the magma is gathering strength. 

Following this particular sinkhole event – an obvious sign that a major earthquake in Italy is already very close.

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Planet Earth

A new great pandemic cycle has begun (again) in China

A new great pandemic cycle has begun (again) in China 101

In the first months of 2020, the whole world with a certain fright followed the events unfolding in China, where people fell on the streets during the day and astronauts wandered, and in the evening crematoria began to smoke. And now, with the onset of December, the cycle seems to be repeating itself.

Shunyi area in Beijing, where the authorities announced “wartime status” the day before. As you can see in the videos, thousands of people are lined up in the queue for mandatory testing:

Dalian city, where “wartime” is also declared. Neighborhoods are blockaded, people are walled up in entrances, familiar characters of George Lucas roam the streets:

Chinese ‘rescuers’, before performing a combat mission:

Chengdu City:

Daluo Port, Yunnan – tourists came for adventure and they received the ‘time of their life’ after leaving the ramp:

If something happens in Beijing, it does not mean that tomorrow the same will happen everywhere. However, the trend towards such dynamics is observed and, as the practice of the first wave of the pandemic has shown, all countries and people, to one degree or another, have taken into account the ‘Chinese experience’. 

Therefore, one must think that everything will now be in peace, as in spring – a new global round of the fight against the Covid has begun in China, a new great pandemic cycle!

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