Plate tectonics are an ever-changing fact of life on earth. They’ve given us beautiful mountains, striking coastlines, and even brought countries together. Fascinating — until your home is ripped apart by a giant rift, as happened recently to a region in Kenya.
The Mai Mahiu-Narok road west of the capital city Nairobi was ripped apart by a crack that, at its furthest points, reaches 65 feet wide and 50 feet deep. The region received a dose of heavy rainfall last month, sending mud and debris through a filled-in crevasse and washing way much of what was in its path. One resident lost his home in the incident, and was barely able to vacate the area in time, he told a video crew from National Geographic.
Residents from the Middle East down through much of Eastern Africa are familiar with what is known as the Great Rift Valley, which is comprised of a number of rifts including the East African Rift where the recent exposure took place. The crack had likely been filled with volcanic ash that was washed away by recent heavy rainfall, Geologist David Adede told local news outlet the Daily Nation.
As rain washed in, the rift opened quickly and swiftly, barely allowing Eliud Njoroge Mbugua to grab his belongings and vacate his home before it was swallowed up, according to a report in Reuters.
The island of Madagascar, off Africa’s east coast, may eventually have some additional neighbors. Rifts of the magnitude seen in East Africa may cause the Nubian plate to pull away from the Somali plate. No need to add an additional stop to your off-coast itinerary just yet, however. It will likely be about 50 million years before this happens.