In Brief

Africa splitting in two: what's happening to the continent?

Huge chasm 65ft wide appears in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley after heavy rains

Heavy rains have opened up a giant chasm in Kenya, leading to predictions that the African continent will split into two. 

The crack in the Great Rift Valley, which appeared mid-March, measures more than 50ft in depth, 65ft across and several miles in length, reports National Geographic

The sudden appearance of the chasm, which caused part of the Nairobi-Narok highway to collapse, was exacerbated by seismic activity in the region, PBS reports.

A witness said the opening appeared so quickly he was able to watch it form and run through his home, reports Reuters. He only just managed to collect some of his belongings before his house collapsed.

The crack appeared along the 3,700 mile-long East African Rift, where the Somali tectonic plate in the east and the Nubian plate in the west move away from each other, adds National Geographic. 

“Eventually, the Somali plate may completely separate from the Nubian plate and form a separate land mass comparable to Madagascar or New Zealand. Fortunately for those who live there, that separation isn't expected to happen for another 50 million years,” it continues. “It does mean, however, that the physical effects of that separation will continue to be felt.”

According to a paper published in Nature, the East African Rift System “remains one of the least monitored tectonic plate boundaries, which makes it challenging to constrain present-day seismic hazards”, meaning further damage to infrastructure in the region may take place unless authorities “plan [the region’s] infrastructure accordingly, saving lives and livelihoods in the process”, Slate adds.

It is expected that an enormous section of East Africa will break away from the main continent, but not for tens of millions of years.

Recommended

Long Covid: the symptoms, the treatment and who is most at risk
A Covid patient is wheeled into hospital
Fact file

Long Covid: the symptoms, the treatment and who is most at risk

What next for Netanyahu amid Israel’s political stalemate?
Benjamin Netanyahu
In Depth

What next for Netanyahu amid Israel’s political stalemate?

‘Boris sends in the gunboats’
Today's newspaper front pages
Today’s newspapers

‘Boris sends in the gunboats’

The Starbucks order that made worker want to quit
Starbucks order
Tall Tales

The Starbucks order that made worker want to quit

Popular articles

London mayoral race 2021: who will win?
Night Tube Sadiq Khan
In Depth

London mayoral race 2021: who will win?

What is Donald Trump up to now?
Donald Trump
In Depth

What is Donald Trump up to now?

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 4 May 2021
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 4 May 2021