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Rift Valley Expedition Sets Off
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The first Chinese scientific expedition to the East African Rift Valley left Beijing yesterday for a 15-day trip.

"Since this is the first expedition to the rift zone by Chinese scientists, it aims to collect basic information and make preliminary studies, laying foundations for further research trips," said Gao Dengyi, team leader and president of the China Association for Scientific Expeditions, the trip's organizers.

The team will research tectonic plate movements and geological changes, as well as human origins, said Gao. "The East African Rift Valley is an ideal place for scientific studies in various fields, including palaeoanthropology, geology, biology and meteorology."

The team has 18 members, including eight scientists and several media specialists.

Huang Wanbo, a palaeoanthropologist, will investigate early hominids and geologist Sui Jianli will study plate movements and volcanic activity.

Zhang Shuyi, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Zoology, will study local baboons and bats and Gao, an Institute of Atmospheric Physics researcher, will focus on environmental change.

The East African Rift Valley is one of the most extensive rifts on the Earth's surface, extending 6,400 kilometers from Jordan to Mozambique.

The team will mainly work in southern Ethiopia in the widest area of the valley, about 1,300 kilometers across.

It has been a rich source of anthropological discovery because the rapidly eroding highlands have filled the valley with sediment, creating a favorable environment for the preservation of remains.

(China Daily August 3, 2005)

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