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Map of East Africa showing some of the historically active volcanoes(red triangles) and the Afar Triangle (shaded, center) -- a so-called triple junction (or triple point), where three plates are pulling away from one another: the Arabian Plate, and the two parts of the African Plate (the Nubian and the Somalian) splitting along the East African Rift Zone.

The East African Rift is an active continental rift zone in eastern Africa that appears to be a developing divergent tectonic plate boundary. It is part of the larger Great Rift Valley. The rift is a narrow zone in which the African Plate is in the process of splitting into two new tectonic plates called the Somali Plate and the Nubian Plate, which are subplates or protoplates. It runs from the Afar Triple Junction in the Afar Depression southward through eastern Africa. It is believed to run offshore of the coast of Mozambique along the Kerimba and Lacerda rifts or grabens,[1] terminating in the Andrew Bain Fracture Zone complex, where it is believed to have its junction with the Southwest Indian Ridge.[2]

The East African Rift consists of two main branches called the Eastern Rift Valley and the Western Rift Valley. These result from the actions of numerous normal (dip-slip) faults which are typical of all tectonic rift zones.

Volcanic activity

The East African Rift zone includes a number of active as well as dormant volcanoes. These include Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, Mount Longonot, Menengai Crater, Mount Karisimbi, Mount Nyiragongo, Mount Meru and Mount Elgon as well as the Crater Highlands in Tanzania. The Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano remains active, and is currently the only natrocarbonatite volcano in the world.

See also


  1. ^ Mougenot, D.; Recq, M.; Virlogeux, P.; Lepvrier, C. (June 5, 1986). "Seaward extension of the East African Rift". Nature 321: 599–603. doi:10.1038/321599a0. Retrieved March 14, 2009.  
  2. ^ Lemaux, James, II; Gordon, Richard G.; Royer, Jean-Yves (April 2002). "Location of the Nubia-Somalia boundary along the Southwest Indian Ridge". Geology 30 (4): 339–342. doi:10.1130/0091-7613(2002)030<0339:LOTNSB>2.0.CO;2.  


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