Summer Science Exhibition

Fast and furious: witnessing the birth of Africa's new ocean

Fault line

A team of scientists are finding out how oceans form by observing the creation of the newest ocean on Earth.

The surface of the Earth is constantly changing. Continents have collided and drifted apart, and new oceans have formed over millions of years to give the Earth its present-day appearance. And the Earth is still changing. In the remote Afar desert in northern Ethiopia, a 60-kilometre-long segment of plate boundary cracked open by as much as eight metres over 10 days in 2005.

“The geological activity in Afar, the hottest place on Earth, is allowing us to witness how our ocean basins started to form,” says Dr Tim Wright, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds.

Visitors will be able to see a 3D interactive guided tour of the Afar region, examining how the surface geology changes when the land splits apart. They will be able to compare freshly-erupted basalt and obsidian lavas with samples dredged up from the modern Mid-Atlantic Ridge. They will see scientists at work in this hostile land and test some of the equipment that they used there.

Exhibited by University of Leeds; University of Bristol; University of Oxford; University of Edinburgh; University of Cambridge; British Geological Survey; Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia

Exhibitor's latest blog

The build begins....
By The Afar Rift Team | Monday 21st June, 10:09pm

A quick post to report our first day in London before the exhibition opens this Saturday.....

Today was our first day in the Southbank Centre. Team members travelled from Bristol, Leeds and Oxford to start assembling our stand. Along with all the other exhibitors we spent all day building our display, there are some pretty impressive looking structures being built!

Check out our twitter feed for a photo-log of our exhibit being constructed...

One of our team members, David Ferguson (see 'meet the team blog #2'), is featured in the latest edition of the NERC Planet Earth podcast talking about magma, volcanic eruptions and Afar:

See you at the Southbank Centre next week!

View all 'Fast and furious: witnessing the birth of Africa's new ocean' blog posts

The Exhibition is located in the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, and takes place from Friday 25 June to Sunday 4 July 2010. Open Friday 25 June 6pm - 8.30pm, then daily 10am - 8.30pm. Entrance is free. For groups larger than 12 people, please contact us to book.