A 35-mile long crack in the Earth’s surface, somewhere in the remote Afar desert of Ethiopia, will eventually become a new ocean. Unfortunately for the drought-starved Ethiopians, it won’t become an ocean tomorrow. No, it’s a slow process that will take millions of years, but it will become an ocean one day.
So what’s so special about the rift? Well, for starters, it opened in a matter of days. The giant split in the ground is 20 feet wide in some places, and it just so happens to fall where the Arabian and African tectonic plates intersect. When the volcano Dabbahu erupted, it caused the two plates to shift apart from one another. This process of land creation is actually the same kind of activity that takes place along the bottom of the sea, except this time it’s on land and scientists can study it. The resulting natural phenomenon is a great glimpse at how the Earth was formed once upon a time.
Plus, in a few million years, you can go swimming there. That’ll be nice, too.