How Was the Great Rift Valley Formed?

According to geologists, the Great Rift Valley was formed by huge subterranean forces that tore the earth’s crust apart, causing chunks of the crust to sink into the earth. The process is called “rifting” and is still going on today.

A rift valley occurs when the outermost layer of the earth splits apart. The rift left over from this violent event has a flat floor and steep sides and the Great Rift Valley is littered with volcanoes all around it. This rift is around 6,000 miles long and runs from Lebanon to Mozambique.

The Great Rift Valley is filled with hot springs, geysers and has multiple earthquakes each year. What was once thought to be one giant 6,000-mile long rift is now known to be several smaller rifts joined together. The Great Rift Valley is comprised of the Great Rift, Jordan Rift, Red Sea Rift, East African Rift, Gregory Rift and the Western Rift.

Although the Great Rift is large, it is not the deepest rift in the world. That honor goes to the Baikal Rift Valley in northeast Russia. The deepest part of this rift is 3,893 feet deep and continues getting deeper each year. Geologists believe that the bottom of this rift could extend more than six miles deep.