Will Africa split into two? Massive crack opens in Kenya

East African rift split

It seems that geologists are split on their decision, to what caused a massive tear across the southwestern part of Kenya recently. It reaches several miles in size and appeared after a heavy rain downpour recently.

This tear measuring 50 feet deep and 20 metres wide across part of Nairobi-Narok highway, was followed by a large amount of seismic activity happening in this particular area. Eventually, Africa is believed to split into several land masses in the future. While scientists speculate various numbers, the estimation is within the next 10 million years.

Image: East African rift split/Temblor.net

Image: East African rift split/Temblor.net

The valley in Africa (where this territory exists) stretches across a vast 1,800 miles of terrain. It extends from the Gulf of aden located in the north, towards Zimbabwe located in the south. Eventually…the African plate will break into several unequal parts.

There will be both the larger Nubian plate and the smaller Somali plate. Where Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania are located, also will be shifted as a part of the smaller plate. Everything else will include the larger plate areas.

This recent occurrence, is unique in the sense that different stages of rifting has happened. This allows teams to observe this cracked rift, while it is in the early stages still. Where the seismic split occurred in the south, shows a lesser deterioration rate. However, it does reach across a wider portioned area. Volcanism and seismicity are somewhat limited.

Most of the time, events such as these go unnoticed. However, this rift is tough to miss. Events such as these, where roads are…give continental rifting a sense of urgency. A Dr. Lucia Perez Diaz from the Fault Dynamics Research Group, explained just how this rupture could happen.

Image: Large crack Africa map/Forbes

Image: Large crack Africa map/Forbes

Perez said, “The East African Rift Valley stretches over 3,000 km from the Gulf of Aden in the north towards Zimbabwe in the south, splitting the African plate into two unequal parts: the Somali and Nubian plates. Activity along the eastern branch of the rift valley, running along Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania, became evident when the large crack suddenly appeared in south-western Kenya.”

The entire process is known as “continental rifting”. For this to happen, it requires huge forces to be exerted upon the Earth. Underneath the crust a “magma plume” forms, forcing the crust up eventually splitting it.

Perez also said, “Eventually, over a period of tens of millions of years, seafloor spreading will progress along the entire length of the rift.”

Earth is an ever-evolving planet and with it comes great changes. Our climate is changing in different parts around the world continuously. One day the world will physically be a much different place than it is now.

(Source: USA Today, The Sun and Quartz Africa)

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