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Great African Rift Valley

2023 MAR 20

Preliminary   > Geography   >   Places in news   >   Places in news

Why in news?

  • Great African Rift Valley may lead to the birth of a new ocean.
  • According to the study, the division of the continent is connected to the East African Rift, a crack that stretches 56 kilometres and appeared in the desert of Ethiopia in 2005, triggering the formation of a new sea.
  • 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.

About Great African Rift Valley:

  • The Great Rift Valley is a massive geological formation that stretches around 6,400 kilometers from northern Syria to central Mozambique in East Africa.
  • The valley is home to the Jordan River
    • It flows through the Jordan Valley and eventually empties into the Dead Sea on the border between Israel and Jordan.
  • The Gulf of Aden is an eastward continuation of the Rift, and from there it extends southeastward as part of the mid-oceanic ridge of the Indian Ocean.
  • In eastern Africa, the valley divides into the Eastern Rift and the Western Rift.
  • The Western Rift, also known as the Albertine Rift, contains some of the deepest lakes in the world – ex: Lake Albert, Lake Rutanzige, Lake Kivu etc.

Factors Responsible for Africa’s Rifting Plates:

  • The three plates — are separating at different speeds.
    • The Nubian African Plate
    • Somalian African Plate
    • Arabian Plate
  • 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 inch to 0.2 inches per year.
  • In the past 30 million years, the Arabian Plate has been gradually moving away from Africa, which has already led to the creation of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.
  • While the rifting process has been occurring for some time, the potential division made headlines worldwide in 2018 when a large crack emerged in the Kenyan Rift Valley.

About Rifting:

  • The Earth's lithosphere is divided into several tectonic plates that 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.
  • Rifting refers to the geological process in which a single tectonic plate is split into two or more plates separated by divergent plate boundaries.
  • This process leads to the emergence of a lowland region known as a rift valley.
  • Example: Narmada Rift Valley (India), Baikal Rift Valley (Russia).


Consider the following statements regarding Great African Rift Valley:

1. The valley is home to the Jordan River

2. It stretches from Syria to Mozambique

3. Gulf of Aden is an eastward continuation of the Rift

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 3 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 2 only

(d) 1,2 and 3