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Another great split?


Lake Naivashu in Kenya's rift valley, a new continent in the making? Credit: Angela Sevin/Flickr/Creative Commons

Lake Naivashu in Kenya’s rift valley. A new continent in the making? Credit: Angela Sevin/Flickr/Creative Commons

Scientists are reporting on the formation of a massive crack in Africa that may result in the continent splitting in half. They don’t believe it will happen in our lifetime, but expect it could happen at some point in the far future.

According to an article in the Daily Mail, the lithosphere made up of the earth’s outer crust and upper mantle has tectonic plates floating underneath.

Post Doctoral researcher Lucia Perez Diaz, who works with the Fault Dynamics Research Group,  says these plates can rupture creating a rift that results in a separate tectonic plate that would essentially create a new continent.

They believe that such a rift is starting to occur in south-western Kenya. The crack is now 3,000 kms long and extends from the Gulf of Aden in the North to Zimbabwe in the South. This crack even resulted in the collapse of a stretch of the Nairobi-Narok highway.

Diaz described the large crack’s appearance as “sudden.”

If this crack continues to move southward, it would essentially spit the African tectonic plate forming a second continent or island depending how large a piece is broken off.

It is believed a similar crack or rift in the tectonic plate resulted in the geological creation of South America that split off from Africa. Even today, we can see how the shape of South America fits into Africa.

Alfred Wegener, the son of an Evangelical pastor, was the first person to suggest that South Africa broke away from Africa. Born in 1880, he received a doctorate in Astronomy. He wrote a book on this theory while convalescing in hospital after being injured during World War I. He was almost run out-of-town for his theory. But by 1960, it was widely believed and accepted.

It was a momentous event that took place in the earth’s ancient history and one wonders if the Bible speaks of this taking place.

Possibly.

There is an interesting verse in one of the genealogical lists found in the book of Genesis that may speak of the ancient split off of South America:

25 Two sons were born to Eber; the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan. (Genesis 10:25 NASV)

The list adds a small footnote about an event that took place during Peleg’s life. It says the earth divided. The Hebrew word means to cleave apart or divide and the tense suggests that it is a continual act, meaning it divided and continued to divide.

In fact, the forces that split off South America from Africa continue to work to this day and are still pushing the two continents apart.

Because Peleg was named after the event, this suggests it was taking place when Peleg was born. Peleg’s name means “divided” and when the word is used as a noun it describes a brook or canal that naturally divides the land.

So what was the Bible referring to?

Some believe it described how the world broke up into different cultures at the Tower of Babel found in the next chapter. Despite the fact it seems to have taken place after Peleg’s birth, it still remains a possibility.

But could it instead be referring to the splitting off of South America and Africa? Once the divide took place, it would naturally began to fill in with ocean water, thus the name Peleg.

The Daily Mail notes if Africa breaks apart:

“The ocean will flood in and, as a result, the African continent will become smaller and there will be a large island in the Indian Ocean composed of parts of Ethiopia and Somalia, including the Horn of Africa.”

Of course, scientists believe the South America split occurred 130 million years ago. But there are questions. What happened on the island of Madagascar off the Southeastern coast of Africa?

There are hippopotamuses in Africa and on Madagascar. Since hippos can’t swim, how did they get on the island? Did the island split off during the South America formation? If so, it must have been more recent.

Sources:

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