Frequent question: What caused the East African Rift Valley?

The East African Rift is one of the great tectonic features of Africa, caused by fracturing of the Earth’s crust. The Somalian plate—which is moving away in the other direction—lies to the other side and includes the Horn of Africa. …

How the East African Rift Valley was formed?

The East African Rift Valley, as the region is known, formed where the Somalian and Nubian plates are pulling away from the Arabian Plate. The eastern branch of the rift passes through Ethiopia and Kenya, and the western branch forms a giant arc from Uganda to Malawi.

What caused the Great Rift Valley in Africa?

Millions of years ago, the Arabian Peninsula was connected to Africa. Seafloor spreading caused the Arabian and African plates to rift apart. The Indian Ocean flooded the rift valley between the continents, creating the Red Sea. Today, Africa and Asia are connected by the triangle of the Sinai Peninsula.

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Why is the East African rift rifting?

Crustal extension has formed a series of elongate lowland valleys bound by steeply dipping normal faults, separated by regions of comparatively high land. The Nubian and Somalian plates are also separating from the Arabian plate in the north, thus creating a ‘Y’ shaped rifting system.

How was the Rift Valley formed?

A rift valley is a lowland region that forms where Earth’s tectonic plates move apart, or rift. Rift valleys are found both on land and at the bottom of the ocean, where they are created by the process of seafloor spreading. … Tectonic plates are huge, rocky slabs of Earth’s lithosphere—its crust and upper mantle.

Where is the East African Rift Valley located?

East African Rift System, also called Afro-Arabian Rift Valley, one of the most extensive rifts on Earth’s surface, extending from Jordan in southwestern Asia southward through eastern Africa to Mozambique. The system is some 4,000 miles (6,400 km) long and averages 30–40 miles (48–64 km) wide.

How fast is Africa splitting apart?

The three plates are separating at different speeds. The Arabian plate is moving away from Africa at a rate of about 1 inch per year, while the two African plates are separating even slower, between half an inch to 0.2 inches per year, according to Macdonald.

Which is the longest rift valley in the world?

List

World Rift/Valley Length
Earth Great Rift Valley 6,000 km (3,700 mi)
Canadian Arctic Rift System 4,800 km (3,000 mi)
West Antarctic Rift System
Midcontinent Rift System 2,000 km (1,200 mi)
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What will happen to the Great Rift Valley in Africa eventually?

Eventually, it will rupture, leading to the formation of a rift valley. This process is accompanied by surface manifestations along the rift valley in the form of volcanism and seismic activity. Rifts are the initial stage of a continental break-up and, if successful, can lead to the formation of a new ocean basin.

Who lives in the Great Rift Valley?

An estimated 1,000 to 1,500 Hadza live in the central Great Rift Valley and the surrounding plains in north-central Tanzania, where they subsist almost entirely off the land: hunting animals, foraging for roots and fruit, gathering honey.

Is Africa cracking in half?

Scientists say a new ocean will form in Africa as the continent continues to split into two. The East African Rift system made up the western and eastern continental rifts, and stretches from the Afar region of Ethiopia down to Mozambique.

What will happen if the East African rift continues?

If these motions continue, plate models (mentioned below) suggest that Africa would rotate clockwise and eventually crash into Europe in 50 Ma in the future. The rift is growing at a rate of one inch per year through the upwelling of magma underneath the continental crust (see Fig.

What if the African continent broke apart?

As the plates continue to pull away from each other, the rift valley will sink deeper and deeper, and water from the Red Sea will flood in to create a new ocean. Africa will become a lot smaller, as parts of southern Ethiopia and Somalia will drift off to form a new island.

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What will eventually happen if a Rift Valley continues to pull apart?

If these two rift zones continue they will break apart the crustal plates they are located on and will create new plates. Sea water will flood the rift valleys and they will eventually become seas like the Red Sea.

Why do rift valleys have volcanoes?

Rift volcanoes form when magma rises into the gap between diverging plates. They thus occur at or near actual plate boundaries. … Earthquake swarms and volcanic eruptions occur when the stretching exceeds the strength of the near-surface rocks, which then fracture along steeply dipping cracks parallel to the rift.

Why rift valleys have steep sides?

c) Rift valleys have steep sides because they are formed when the earth crust is divided, they are not like those valley which are formed by soil erosion.

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