Africa’s great rift
24th 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, 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.