Many years ago, Planet Earth only had one continent. In the time it divided into the seven ones we have today. Moving back to present, it appears that history is about to repeat itself. Scientists have noticed a large tear in south-western Kenya, and they have reasons to believe that it could lead to a split.
The crack spreads for several kilometres, and the area is also known for seismic activity. It appears that the collapse of the Nairobi-Narok highway was caused precisely by this crack.
Earth continues to change
Our planet is always changing itself, so a continent that splits into two is not that unusual. That is because plate tectonics go through various changes, and they move constantly. At the moment, scientists don’t really agree when it comes to deciding what tare the exact mechanisms behind these movements.
The plates can rupture thanks to these forces, which leads to rifts. The current crack is generated by the East African Rift System. The valley for it stretches from the Gulf of Aden and it divides the African plate into the Nubia plate and the Somali one.
The reasons for rifting
Rifting happens when a horizontal extensional force acts on the lithosphere, making it become thinner. When the lithosphere ruptures, a rift valley is formed. There are also some surface manifestations, which include seismic activity and volcanism.
When the force is a great one, this could lead to continental rifting. In this situation it definitely appears like this one is the case. The East African Rift is an active one, which means that the circulating mantle is the one the movements.
The crack seems to indicate that in tens of millions of years, a split will occur. This means that the ocean will flood in and we will have some changes in the geography of the globe.
Brad is a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, is an award-winning travel, culture, and parenting writer. His writing has appeared in many of the Canada’s most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who’s not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people’s eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children. Brad is a contributing journalist to Advocator.ca