About 200 million years ago, Africa was the center of the world, literally. It represented the landmass that was located at the center of the supercontinent Pangea, which eventually broke up into multiple pieces, the continents that we have today. Now, Africa sits on the second largest piece that derived from Pangea. This continent is frequently affected by another phenomenon known as the theory of plate tectonics. This means that whenever plates bump into each other, they make the planet shake.
Special sensors, called seismometers, pick up this shaking. Computational seismologists use these sensors to create images of the Earth’s interior. This information that they both detect and record is very valuable. It provides details regarding natural disasters, environmental changes and even the location of resources. Which brings us to the African issue. However, before this, the process of listening to the planet happens. From recordings, experts extract seismic signals which they use to recreate the planet’s interior. It’s important to know that these recordings also offer a lot of useful information. For example, in Botswana, scientists can find out where and how the fractures in the ground rupture.
Listening to the planet and using that information
I am DrOh the #EarthDoctor: I unlock the information digitized by ever increasing, globe-encircling sensors that have been listening to our Earth-shaking (excerpts from https://t.co/a6UCgTFofu). pic.twitter.com/y4539SUobZ
— Tolulope Olugboji (@tolumorayo) April 10, 2018
Apart from this, it can help with the location of earthquakes or with the timing of volcanic eruptions. Moreover, it can detect the exact distribution of Africa’s yet undiscovered underground resources. It can show where the diamonds are in South Africa or where the oil and gas resources are in Angola and Nigeria.
It’s worth noting that even with all this information and technology, we still know very little about the African plate. One solution would be to increase the funding for Africa’s Earth and planetary exploration space. Research and education towards this goal are also very important. It’s not necessarily about the resources, but about finding where earthquakes and other natural disasters will strike and possible, about saving more lives.
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