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Scientists discover reason why Africa is splitting in two as huge crack found

Scientists discover reason why Africa is splitting in two as huge crack found

Scientists think they've figured out why this is happening

One continent that is being impacted by the ever-changing planet is Africa, but what is the East African Rift?

The constant changes to the conditions of the planet have never been more spoken about, whether it’s climate change or pollution, there’s a number of things we need to improve.

Whether we are thinking about our great, great grandkids in a hundred years, or how it may affect us, knowing what is going on with our planet is rather important.

The ongoing East African Rift has drawn a lot of media attention, as it seems to be a visual representation of just how much Earth is really changing.


It started to gain attention, following a sudden large crack that appeared in Kenya in 2018.

It caused massive destruction in the south-western part of the country, and led part of a local highway to collapse.

While initial theories believed this was linked to the East African Rift, geologists say that the feature was most likely caused by soil erosion.

However, postdoctoral researcher at Royal Holloway University of London, Lucía Pérez Díaz says the crack could also be because of the erosion of soft soils infilling an old rift-related fault, hence linking it back to the rift.

But what is causing this to happen?

Let's hope you were listening to your geography and science lessons back at school.

While the Earth's change may not seem noticeable to us, tectonic plates are constantly moving.

The Earth's lithosphere, which is formed by the crust and the upper part of the mantle, is broken up into a number of these tectonic plates.

As mentioned, these plates are not stationery, and the movement causing them to move around can also rupture.

This can lead to a rift forming and the creation of a new plate boundary, which Diaz says is happening at the East African Rift.

The East African Rift itself stretches over a staggering 3,000km from the Gulf of Aden in the north towards Zimbabwe in the south.

As a result, it splits the African plate into two unequal parts: the Somali and Nubian plates.

The rift has varying different attributes across its 3,000km distance, with the south seeing faulting occur over a wider area, and volcanism and seismicity are limited.

But if you head towards the Afar region, the entire rift valley floor is covered with volcanic rocks.

Diaz suggests that this means the lithosphere has thinned almost to the point of complete break up.

Featured Image Credit: YouTube/Africa Infohub/BBC