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Marine Places

Red Sea Coast

The Red Sea was created as a result of a rifting process that has been gradually separating Africa from the Arabian Peninsula for 25 million years. Rifting is the splitting of a region of Earth’s crust into two parts, which then move apart, creating a new tectonic plate boundary. This process begins when an upward flow of heat from Earth’s interior stretches the continental crust, causing it to thin, and eventually it may fracture, or fault. Sections of crust may sink, and if either end of the rift connects to the sea, flooding will occur, creating new coasts. On both sides of the Red Sea, there is evidence of the downward movement of blocks of crust, in the form of steep escarpments (lines of mountains). The Red Sea shoreline itself shelves steeply in many parts. On the land side, the coast is sparsely vegetated because of the region’s hot, dry climate, but underwater there are many rich and spectacular coral reefs.

  • Indian Ocean Northwest
  • Type Primary coast
  • Formation Faulting and sinking of land
  • Extent 1,200 miles (1,900 km)
  • Location Coasts of Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, and Saudi Arabia, from gulfs of Suez and Aqaba to Djibouti
Red Sea Coast habitat mapzoom image