Kenya: Kenya is splitting, and this rift at Suswa is just the beginning

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Kenya is slowly splitting at the Rift Valley, geologists have said after massive Earth movements on Monday morning left deep fissures in Narok County. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

  1. Somalia and half of Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania are expected to split from Africa to form a new continent.

  2. Forces of the Earth are the strongest at the base of the valley, yet it is also here that geological processes are most active.

  3. The rains have only aggravated the situation by washing away the ash, eventually exposing the cracks.

     

     

    IN SUMMARY

  4. Kenya is slowly splitting at the Rift Valley, geologists have said after massive Earth movements on Monday morning left deep fissures in Narok County.

At the intersection of the damage with the busy Mai Mahiu-Narok road, what was recently an even plain of fertile, arable land has been reduced to a rugged expanse, with a huge tear that is as much as 50 feet deep and more than 20 metres wide running through it.

This spot, however, is just one of the tens, perhaps hundreds, of other weak spots on the Great Rift Valley, which runs through the continent from the Horn of Africa to Mozambique, scientists say.

NEW CONTINENT

Four countries in the Horn of Africa — Somalia and half of Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania — are expected to split from Africa to form a new continent — referred to as the Somali Plate — in about 50 million years.

Forces of the Earth are the strongest at the base of the valley, yet it is also here that geological processes are most active.

Suswa lies at the bottom of the valley.

“The valley has a history of tectonic and volcanic activities,” says geologist David Adede.

“Whereas the rift has remained tectonically inactive in the recent past, there could be movements deep within the Earth’s crust that have resulted in zones of weakness extending all the way to the surface.”

These zones of weakness form fault lines and fissures which are normally filled by volcanic ash, most likely from the nearby Mt Longonot.

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