Geological Oddity: The Rift Valley Superplume Tears East Africa Apart To Create A New Ocean In 50 Million Years!

Geological oddity: The Rift Valley in East Africa is a place where the world is slowly tearing itself apart.

The Great Valley Rift in East Africa is composed of two massive plateaus as big as entire countries: the Ethiopia Dome and the Kenya Dome. Both lie within present-day Ethiopia and Somalia.

According to scientists, the rift valley is tearing East Africa apart and in another 50 million years, we’ll have another ocean there. Amazing, no?

rift vally mystery, why rift valley widens, amazing rift valley soon an ocean, The rift valley, Great Rift Valley,  East African rift., The African rift valley is one of the most fascinating natural wonders, known for its unique biodiversity and for being considered -for the important paleoanthropologic discoveries- the "cradle of mankind", i.e. the place where our species has evolved and diversified in the last millions of years. Characterized by a system of linear valleys extending for thousands of kilometers, the rift valley is a huge fracture on the surface of our planet that progressively widens with time, tearing the eastern portion of the African continent apart. It represents a geological wonder where volcanism, earthquakes and fracturing of the Earth's crust are the surface expressions of the enormous forces that shape our planet. Photo: Geology.com
Geological Oddity: The Rift Valley mystery and geological oddity! The African rift valley is one of the most fascinating natural wonders, known for its unique biodiversity and for being considered -for the important paleoanthropologic discoveries- the “cradle of mankind”, i.e. the place where our species has evolved and diversified in the last millions of years. Characterized by a system of linear valleys extending for thousands of kilometers, the rift valley is a huge fracture on the surface of our planet that progressively widens with time, tearing the eastern portion of the African continent apart. It represents a geological wonder where volcanism, earthquakes and fracturing of the Earth’s crust are the surface expressions of the enormous forces that shape our planet. Photo: Geology.com

It is known that the tectonic plates underneath this part of the continent are in the process of separating. Using precise isotopic measurements, scientists are now closer to figuring out why and how this process is working.

What is pushing the tectonic plates underneath the surface apart?

The debates last for many years. The only plate existing today, the African plate, is slowly dividing into two plates, the Somali plate and the Nubian plate. Both plates will rupture completely in approximately 10 million years.

The new study suggests that the cause of this Rift Valley rupture is a superplume, a huge area within the Earth’s mantle that brings heat up from the planet’s core to the crust. Superplume can be analysed using noble gas isotopic analyses.

After geochemical measurement of Helium and Neon isotopes, the new study demonstrates that the Kenya Dome and Ethiopia Dome:

  • Are products of the same thing: a huge African superplume underlying the entire East African Rift,
  • The plume underneath both plateaus was of the same material and of the same age.

Hence, there was one common superplume at the origin.

If you have time, this video brings you on an adventure to the East African Rift Valley to understand this dynamic region of our planet.

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