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rift across the continent.  Is Africa falling apart?

rift across the continent. Is Africa falling apart?

The tectonic activity that shaped the African Rift Valley has thinned the crust along its boundaries. Therefore, the area is volcanically and seismically active. Mount Kilimanjaro. Part of it.

G. Lacz / IMAGO / imagebroker

The Great Rift Valley widens by about two and a half centimeters each year. The continent can be divided into two parts. Geologists have now discovered what is driving the rift.

no time? Blue News sums it up for you

  • The Great Rift Valley is widening every year.
  • Scientists now have confirmation of a theory that magma flows beneath the Earth’s crust are responsible.
  • The African continent could break apart one day.

In 2005, the ground opened up 50 kilometers long in the Ethiopian desert, and in 2018 another fissure appeared in Kenya: 15 meters deep, 20 meters wide and several kilometers long. These are traces of the Great Rift Valley along the continent and have become increasingly visible on Earth’s surface in recent years.

Tectonic plates, which are individual parts of the Earth’s crust, are in constant motion. They rub and press against each other and create enormous tension forces.

Over the past 20 to 30 million years, this has led to the formation of the Great African Rift Valley, a valley 30 to 100 kilometers wide across the African continent. It stretches from the Red Sea to Mozambique and stretches over 6,000 km. The fracture reaches a depth of a few hundred to several thousand metres.

East Africa could break off and form a giant island

If the plates continue to push against each other, the eastern part of Africa may eventually separate. Then Somalia, Ethiopia, Tanzania and half of Kenya form a huge island off the rest of Africa.

Great African Rift Valley Trail.
Great African Rift Valley Trail.

Wikimedia Commons/Sémhur, translation by NordNordWest/CC BY-SA 3.0

Geologists have long known that the African plate is about to collapse, but it’s not exactly what is pushing the rift any further.

new computer model calculations Scientists from the American University of Virginia Tech are now confirming the theory that the so-called African “super-pillar” under the Earth’s crust along part of the trench is to blame.

This is a flow of superheated rock rising from the deepest parts of the Earth’s mantle and pressing down on the Earth’s crust from below. The world’s largest huge bubbles under the African Rift Valley, which also lead to volcanic activity in this region.

Scientists believe that it will take many millions of years before a new continent separates from Africa – in the blink of an eye in Earth’s history.