What's New :
UPSC CSE Result 2023.Download toppers list

Africa’s great rift

  • Published
    17th Mar, 2023

Scientists have predicted that a new ocean would be created as Africa gradually splits into two separate parts.

  • The rift is going to develop in between the eastern and the western parts of the African continent.
About the rift:
  • Rifting refers to the geological process in which a single tectonic plate is split into two or more plates separated by divergent plate boundaries.
  • The division of the African continent is connected to the East African Rift which is a crack that stretches 56 kilometres and appeared in the desert of Ethiopia in 2005.
  • This geological process will inevitably divide the continent, resulting in currently landlocked countries, such as Uganda and Zambia, obtaining their own coastlines in due time, which would take five to 10 million years.
  • Formation of new islands:
  • As the Somali and Nubian tectonic plates continue to pull apart from each other, a smaller continent will be created from the rift, which will include present-day Somalia and parts of Kenya, Ethiopia, and Tanzania.
  • Formation of New Ocean:
  • The Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea will eventually flood into the Afar region in Ethiopia and the East African Rift Valley, leading to the formation of a new ocean.
  • This new ocean will result in East Africa becoming a separate small continent with its own unique geographic and ecological characteristics.

Phenomenon behind splitting African continent:

  • The Arabian Plate is moving away from Africa at a rate of about an inch per year, while the two African plates are separating even slower, between half an inches to 0.2 inches per year.
  • The Earth’s lithosphere, comprised of the crust and upper part of the mantle, is divided into several tectonic plates that are not stationary but rather move in relation to each other at varying speeds.
  • Tectonic forces not only move the plates but also have the potential to cause them to rupture, resulting in the formation of a rift and potentially leading to the creation of new plate boundaries.

Consequences of African rift:

  • Africa is the most impacted region when it comes to displacement, with a larger number of countries affected than any other continent or region.

As of 2015, more than 15 million people were internally displaced in Africa, according to the United Nations Environment Programme report on displacement and environment.

  • The phenomenon will result in the displacement of communities, settlements and various flora and fauna.
  • These changes will impact their habitats due to climate change, resulting in environmental degradation.

After effects of the rift formation:

  • Rapid urbanisation and increased settlements will put pressure on natural resources, leading to a scarcity of water, energy and food of the region.
  • Uncontrolled waste disposal will also be a significant concern.
  • Furthermore, some species will disappear, while others will become endangered due to habitat changes.
GS Mains Classes GS Classes 2024 UPSC Study Material

Verifying, please be patient.

Enquire Now