The rift

24 06 2008

Ascension stamp, Mid-Atlantic rift

Ascension, Scott 268, 1980, 36mm x 48mm

This stamp features two maps, one focusing on the topography of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the other on the ancient supercontinent known as Pangaea. Alfred Wegener came up with the theory of continental drift in the early part of the 20th century, long before the subsurface mechanism of tectonic plate motion were worked out. On the main map, the small island of Ascension, nearly unpopulated, appears here right in the middle of the action, slightly to the west of the ridge. Other features appear to the north and south: the archipelago of St. Peter and St. Paul Rocks, St. Helena island, and Tristan da Cunha island, amidst zones of sea floor faulting. On the inset map, of course, Ascension would be pretty much in the fault zone between between what became South America and what became Africa.

The occasion of the issue was the 150th anniversary of the Royal Geographical Society of Britain in 1830.