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Geology Roundup

March 9, 2007

Africa’s splitting apart, and scientists may have found ancient Ithaca.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Pulling Africa in two. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Most of the earth’s enormous continental plates meet in the ocean. But in Ethiopia, the African and Arabian plates meet on dry land, and have recently begun pulling apart at a furious rate. Normally, the plates separate at a rate of about 16 millimeters per year—the length of a large ant. But a crack formed between the plates a year and a half ago, pushing them apart eight meters almost overnight. The rift remains active, and an international team of scientists has assembled to study it, using satellite and radar technology.

In other geology news, researchers may have found the island of Ithaca, described by Homer in The Odyssey. No Greek islands match the features Homer described. But a small peninsula called Paliki does seem to match up, and now geologists report that thousands of years ago, Paliki may well have been an island.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.