News of the WeekGEOSCIENCE

From Earth's Core to African Oil

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Science  12 Oct 2001:
Vol. 294, Issue 5541, pp. 287
DOI: 10.1126/science.294.5541.287

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WASHINGTON, D.C.-- African geology, argues geologist Kevin Burke, is shaped not by the clashing and grinding of tectonic plates but by plumes of hot rock, some of which rise 2900 kilometers from Earth's molten core. He sees a chain of events leading to Africa's corrugated surface and ultimately the oil riches being harvested offshore of Nigeria, with the origin of humans in midchain for good measure. Some researchers are quick to challenge one link or another in his chain, but Burke's approach of linking the geological record at the surface with the increasingly detailed seismic snapshots of the deep Earth is an emerging new direction in the geosciences.