In the southwest of Kenya, a large crack has formed. The rift spread for many kilometers and continues to grow, as a consequence - the Nairobi-Narok highway collapsed.
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Some researchers concluded that the crack is associated with plate tectonic activity. At the moment, geologists consider that the main cause of that process was erosion. Earth's lithosphere has a complex structure and consists of several tectonic plates. They can be dynamic, so they move, but with different speeds, sliding along the viscous asthenosphere. It happens, that plates not only collide but also burst. You can find more information about tectonic faults on Wikipedia.
History repeats itself
Activity processes at the eastern part, spreading along with three African countries (Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania), became apparent just after the appearance of a large fault.
Furthermore, besides these processes, there are also volcanic and seismic activity. The fault is the initial stage of continental decay, which, as a result, can be the cause of the appearance of a new ocean basin. This process took place 138 million years ago, when Africa and South America "dispersed", and between them emerged the South Atlantic Ocean.
The East African fault was classified as an active type. Geologists have found that a large mantle plume rises beneath it, which lifts and heats the lithosphere. So, it weakens, stretches and ultimately collapses.
Features of the East African fault
In East Africa, the fault is so enormous that it can be seen from space.
Breaks and failures appeared gradually. The tectonic movement started in the Afar region in northern Ethiopia more than 30 million years ago. Then the activity continued to spread southward towards Zimbabwe at a speed of 2.5 to 5 cm per year.
The East African fault is unique because it allows us to observe various stages of plate decay. In the south, where the tectonic activity began relatively recently, it occurs at a slow pace and over a wide area, volcanism and seismicity are limited.
What changes can bring the fault?
When the collapse is completed, a new ocean will begin to form. Magma in the space created by the broken plates will gradually solidify. For tens of millions of years, the fault surface will continue to turn into the seabed. Then the “reservoir” will be flooded, and the African continent will be smaller, and in the Indian Ocean, a new large island will emerge from the parts of contemporary Ethiopia and Somalia.