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Ethiopia from top to bottom: Using seismology to understand how tectonic plates rise, split, then fall
12 April, 2021 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
by Dr Ian Bastow BSc MRes PhD
Senior Lecturer in Seismology Imperial College London
Joint Lecture with the Geology Section
To an Earth Scientist, Ethiopia is a truly remarkable place. Its highest mountain, Ras Dashen, stands 4550m tall; its lowest point, the Danakil Depression, lies some 150km below sea level. From space, the immaculate jigsaw fit of the Somalian, Arabian and Nubian tectonic plates is un-mistakable. On closer inspection, active volcanoes and earthquakes provide daily reminders that this is a region that remains in a state of geological development. Active geological processes pose significant hazard, but also a remarkable opportunity for scientists curious about how tectonic plates break in two. In this talk, I will discuss how decades of work by seismologists like me have helped us understand how Ethiopia has come to be so topographically and geologically interesting. Our journey will take us from the core-mantle boundary, some 2891km below our feet, to the surface. I will also discuss how the lessons we have learned from the Horn of Africa have helped shed new light on how continents have broken apart through geological time.
Ian Bastow is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Engineering, Department of Earth Science & Engineering, Imperial College London.
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