Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researcher Looks for Geological “Missing Link” in Rift Studies

21.07.2004


An embryonic rift valley in Botswana, the southwestern extension of the East African Rift System, where some of the earliest hominids have been discovered, may also hold answers to continental breakup, according to a University of Missouri-Rolla geologist who is studying how the rift has formed.



“This rift will provide us with an early snapshot of how continental rifting all begins,” says Dr. Estella Atekwana, an associate professor of geology and geophysics at UMR. The study of rift basins could help scientists better understand the initial stages of continental breakup, she says.

Atekwana’s research into tectonic plate processes in Botswana’s East African Rift “will broaden our understanding of the earliest stages of passive margin development, or continental separation -- a missing link in the study of early rifting processes.” The sediment trapped in the basin offers clues to humanity’s past, she says.


“Almost all of the hominids that have been discovered in East Africa have come from the Rift Valley, including Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania and the Main Ethiopian Rift,” says Atekwana. “It is necessary to understand rift formation mechanisms in order to unravel a large portion of the Earth’s history.”

Aided by a $63,742 grant from the National Science Foundation, Atekwana is studying how tectonic plates move and develop into continental rift zones.

“Here, one can examine active rifting processes in near real time without the added complication of volcanic activity and potentially related complex underplating of magmas in the crust,” says Atekwana.

In an active continental rift zone, two plates are separating causing geologic activity such as volcanic eruptions, says Atekwana. But during passive margin development the plates have already separated and the volcanic eruptions have ceased, which creates the unique opportunity to study the sediment.

Such is the case at the East African Rift zone where the ground is splitting apart, revealing layers of sediment dating to more than 14 million years ago. The sediment contains not only evidence of past plants and animals, but is also an indicator of past climate.

Atekwana recently returned from a two week visit to the East African Rift zone, and also chaired a session on the structure and evolution of rift systems during the International Conference on the East African Rift System, held June 20-24 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

| newswise
Further information:
http://www.umr.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past
28.04.2017 | National Science Foundation

nachricht Citizen science campaign to aid disaster response
28.04.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>