The Full Wiki

Great Rift Valley: Wikis

Advertisements
  
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.














Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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

The Great Rift Valley is a name given in the late 19th century by British explorer John Walter Gregory to the continuous geographic trench, approximately 6,000 kilometres (3,700 mi) in length, that runs from northern Syria in Southwest Asia to central Mozambique in East Africa. The name continues in some usages, although it is today considered geologically imprecise as it combines features that are today regarded as separate, although related, rift and fault systems. Today, the term is most often used to refer to the valley of the East African Rift, the divergent plate boundary which extends from the Afar Triple Junction southward across eastern Africa, and is in the process of splitting the African Plate into two new separate plates. Geologists generally refer to these incipient plates as the Nubian Plate and the Somali Plate.

Contents

Geography

The Sinai Peninsula at centre and the Dead Sea and Jordan Valley above
The Rift Valley from space

The Great Rift Valley as originally described extends from Lebanon in the north to Mozambique in the south, and constitutes one of two distinct physiographic provinces of the East African mountains physiographic division.

Advertisements

Sinai peninsula

The northernmost part of the Rift, today called the Dead Sea Transform or Rift, forms the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon separating the Lebanon Mountains and Anti-Lebanon Mountains. Further south it is known as the Hula Valley separating the Galilee mountains and the Golan Heights. The River Jordan begins here and flows southward through Lake Hula into the Sea of Galilee in Israel, then continues south through the Jordan Rift Valley into the Dead Sea on the Israeli-Jordanian border. From the Dead Sea southwards, the Rift is occupied by the Wadi Arabah, then the Gulf of Aqaba, and then the Red Sea. Off the southern tip of Sinai in the Red Sea, the Dead Sea Transform meets the Red Sea Rift which runs the length of the Red Sea. The Red Sea Rift comes ashore to meet the East African Rift and the Aden Ridge in the Afar Depression of East Africa. The junction of these three rifts is called the Afar Triple Junction.

Africa

In eastern Africa, the valley divides into two, the Northern Rift Valley and the Southern Rift Valley.

The Western Rift, also called the Albertine Rift, is edged by some of the highest mountains in Africa, including the Virunga Mountains, Mitumba Mountains, and Ruwenzori Range. It contains the Rift Valley lakes, which include some of the deepest lakes in the world (up to 1,470 metres deep at Lake Tanganyika). Much of this area lies within the boundaries of national parks such as Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwenzori National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda, and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Lake Victoria, the second largest area freshwater lake in the world, is considered part of the Rift Valley system although it actually lies between the two branches. All of the African Great Lakes were formed as the result of the rift, and most lie within its rift valley.

In Kenya, the valley is deepest to the north of Nairobi. As the lakes in the Eastern Rift have no outlet to the sea and tend to be shallow, they have a high mineral content as the evaporation of water leaves the salts behind. For example, Lake Magadi has high concentrations of soda (sodium carbonate) and Lake Elmenteita, Lake Bogoria, and Lake Nakuru are all strongly alkaline, while the freshwater springs supplying Lake Naivasha are essential to support its current biological variety.

Discoveries in human evolution

The Rift Valley in East Africa has been a rich source of fossils[1] that allow study of human evolution, especially in an area known as Piedmont.[2]

Because the rapidly eroding highlands have filled the valley with sediments, a favorable environment for the preservation of remains has been created. The bones of several hominid ancestors of modern humans have been found there, including those of "Lucy",[3] a partial, yet eye-opening australopithecine skeleton, which was discovered by anthropologist Donald Johanson dating back over 3 million years. Richard and Mary Leakey have also done significant work in this region.

More recently, two other hominid ancestors have been discovered there: a 10 million year-old ape called Chororapithecus abyssinicus, found in the Afar rift, in eastern Ethiopia,[4] and the Nakalipithecus nakayamai, which is also 10 million years old.[4]

See also

Notes

Further reading

  • Africa's Great Rift Valley, 2001, ISBN 0810906023
  • Tribes of the Great Rift Valley, 2007, ISBN 9780810994119
  • East African Rift Valley lakes, 2006, OCLC 76876862
  • Photographic atlas of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge Rift Valley, 1977, ISBN 0387902473
  • Rift Valley fever : an emerging human and animal problem, 1982, ISBN 9241700637

External links


Simple English

File:Great Rift Valley
The Rift Valley from space.
File:EAfrica.gif
Map of East Africa showing some of the historically active volcanoes (red triangles) and the Afar Triangle (shaded, center) — a triple junction where three plates are pulling away from one another: the Arabian Plate, and the two parts of the African Plate (the Nubian and the Somali) splitting along the East African Rift Zone (USGS).
File:Ocean-birth
Diagram of Great Rift Valley, shows will form a sea in the future.

The Great Rift Valley is a name given to a trough that stretches from the northern part of Syria in Southwest Asia to the middle of Mozambique in East Africa. The rift is bordered by a series of mountains and active volcanoes. It is a site of faults and earthquakes.

Basically, the eastern part of Africa is rifting away from the main body. This causes all the geological activity at the Valley. Far in the future, a sea will run between these two parts of Africa. The Arabian peninsula is already almost separated. The whole process is part of plate tectonics.

The Rift in Africa

In eastern Africa, the valley divides into two, the Western Rift Valley and the Eastern Rift Valley.

The Western Rift, also called the Albertine Rift, is edged by some of the highest mountains in Africa. It contains the Rift Valley lakes, which include some of the deepest lakes in the world (up to 1,470 metres deep at Lake Tanganyika). Much of this area lies within the boundaries of national parks.

Lake Victoria, the second largest area freshwater lake in the world, lies between the two branches. All of the African Great Lakes were formed as the result of the rift, and most lie within its rift valley.

In Kenya, the valley is deepest to the north of Nairobi. The lakes in the Eastern Rift have no outlet to the sea and tend to be shallow. Therefore they have a high mineral content, as the evaporation of water leaves the salts behind. For example, Lake Magadi has high concentrations of soda (sodium carbonate) and Lake Elmenteita, Lake Bogoria, and Lake Nakuru are all strongly alkaline, while the freshwater springs supplying Lake Naivasha are essential to support its current biological variety.


Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message