Hi again!

I can’t believe I’m in Kenya! I am staying at a hotel named the Latuielas Hotel and it’s about 50 miles away from the Valley. Latuielas is such a relaxing place, with pools, fun activities and tours, and best of all, delicious food. I give it 5 stars!

Yesterday, I visited the East African Rift, part of the Great Rift Valley that stretches from Syria in Southwest Asia, to Mozambique in Southeast Africa (see picture below), around the coordinates N 1° 57′ 27.7524″, E 37° 17′ 49.9358″.  I decided to take a tour recommended by the hotel. Our tour guide, Chiemeka explained some of the history of this Valley. I fumbled for my pen and paper to start taking some notes.

So, how did the East African Rift form? Millions of years ago, the Earth’s crust was torn apart all the way across the Eastern end of Africa. The land on either side erupted to create great volcanic mountains, but the valley floor slowly sank into a low plain. It is a active, developing divergent tectonic plate in which the African Plate is splitting into two new tectonic plates called the Nubian Plate and the Somali Plate. Here are a series of picture to help you understand.


These two diverging tectonic plates is causing many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes in the area. About 80% of Africa’s volcanoes are found alongside or within the Great Rift Valley. Wow that’s a lot of volcanoes in one area! In the past 150 years, there were more than 110 eruptions in 18 locations, and another 112 are considered potentially active. The earthquakes are caused by lava gushing out of fissures on the ridge. This creates new earth crust and when it hardens, it becomes part of the ocean floor. As the magma rises up, it spreads across the floor on both sides which shifts tectonic plates and causes tremors. Research shows that there are seven earthquakes along the East African Rift and that the earthquakes are located well within the mantle beneath the rift.

In September 2005, there was a major tectonic activity when a rift in the Afar region (a junction of three tectonic rifts where the Red Sea rift meets the Aden Ridge and the East African rift) was torn open over a few days. There were earthquakes (magnitudes of 5.5), followed by a volcanic eruption.

Because of the magma rising up, Afar will become a seafloor spreading ridge, meaning that new oceanic crust is formed by volcanic activity and then it moves away from the ridge. The magma contains heavy elements such as iron so when the new crust is formed, it will be denser and sink lower than the rest of the African continent. The water from the Red Sea will flow in, creating a new ocean. In millions of years, Afar would be submerged in water. How sad! This place is truly a beautiful environment and a breathtaking natural phenomenon.

Wow, that’s a lot of information! I’m glad that I was able to learn so much about this geological wonder. When we got to the site, we even went on a helicopter to get an aerial view! I took out my camera and started shooting away…below are some pictures!


Until next time!


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. tectonictrip
    Apr 04, 2012 @ 22:21:02

    Wow, this is really interesting…nice job on your blog! Funny to find another person going around the world looking for tectonic plates–I am too. It’s almost like we’re part of the same science class…
    Anyhow, keep it up!


  2. Ms. Martin
    Apr 05, 2012 @ 18:05:35

    This a great explanation of the African Rift Valley!


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