Rift Valley Escarpment(Africa)

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  • Named by explorer John Walter Gregory. Great Rift Valley is an enormous geological and geographical features that runs for 5,000km from northern Syria in southwestern Asia to Mozambique in East Africa. Formed by rifting and separation of the African and Arabian tectonic plates around 35 million years ago.

    The Valley varies in width from 30 to 100 km and in depth from a few hundred to several thousand meters. In East Africa the valley divides into two, the Western Rift Valley and the Eastern Rift Valley.

    Western Rift Valley (Albertine) pass Lake Albert in Uganda, edged with some of mountains including Virunga , Mitumba , Ruwenzori Range and also Rift valley lakes, Lake Tanganyika, the deepest lake in the world (1,470 meters deep), Lake Nyasa, Lake Victoria, the second largest fresh water lake in the world considered part of the Rift Valley but it lies between the two branches.

    Eastern Rift valley (Gregory) edged with Oldonyo lengai mountain, Olduvai gorge, Serengeti, Lake Natron, Lake Manyara also Ngorongoro.
    Around Tanzania the valley is deepest to the northern, central and southern part.

    As the valley has no outlet to the sea, its lakes tend to be shallow and have a high mineral content as the evaporation of water leaves the salts behind.Example, Lake Manyara, Lake Natron, Lake Eyasi , Lake Makat , Momela lakes are all alkaline .

    In Kenya there are Lake Magadi (sodium carbonate), Lake Elmenteita, Lake Baringo, Lake Bogoria, Lake Nakuru and Naivasha.

    Original faulting activity that created the Rift weakened the Earth's crust along its margins. All areas around are volcanically and seismically active producing volcanic mountains such as Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, Mount Karisimbi, Mount Nyiragongo, Mount Meru and Mount Elgon as well as the Crater Highlands in Tanzania and Ol Doinyo Lengai volcanoremains active, Currently the only natrocarbonatite volcano in the world

    Hence Rift Valley has been a rich source of anthropological discovery, especially in Olduvai Gorge.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 in this particular Region.