THE massive cracks growing longer and deeper in Kenya every day are proof the African continent is will split in two, experts claim.
Giant chasms first started appearing in the aptly-named Rift Valley as heavy rainfall weakened the ground over the last month.
The same deluge also caused hospital walls to collapse, flooded entire neighbourhoods and closed off major highways.
The floodwaters created a deep crack stretching several miles near the town of Mai Mahiu, news.com.au reports.
It ripped open a major highway and created a deep gully that sucked in cars, as well as devastating farmers' land and homes.
The tear – more than 15m deep and 15m wide – weaved through the arable land in Narok County, according to Face2Face Africa.
Experts are holding it up as proof that the African continent will split into two in about 50million years.
They claim the Somali tectonic plate which covers the Great Rift Valley — running from the Horn of Africa to Mozambique — will separate itself from the the Nubian or African Plate.
Kenyan geologist David Ahede told Kenya’s Daily Nation: "The Great Rift splits Africa into two plates.
"With what is happening we have established one plate which is the Somali plate is moving away from the other plate at a rate of 2.5cm.
"In the near future if this happens we shall have the Somali plate separating from the other Nubian plate."
He said that movements have resulted in weaknesses and the weak zones form fault lines and fissures which are normally filled by volcanic ash, most likely from the nearby Mt Longonot.
Mr Ahede added: "You cannot stop a geological process because it occurs from deep within the crust of the Earth."
This is because of the Earth’s lithosphere, formed by the crust and the upper part of the mantle, is broken up into a number of tectonic plates.
"These plates are not static, but move relative to each other at varying speeds," according to Dr Lucia Perez Diaz, a postdoctoral researcher at the Fault Dynamics Research Group at Royal Holloway.
"Exactly what mechanism or mechanisms are behind their movement is still debated," she wrote in The Conversation.
"But are likely to include convection currents within the asthenosphere and the forces generated at the boundaries between plates."
These forces do not just move the plates around.
They can also cause plates to rupture, forming a rift and potentially leading to the creation of new plate boundaries.
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Ms Perez Diaz wrote: “This process is accompanied by surface manifestations along the rift valley in the form of volcanism and seismic activity.
“Rifts are the initial stage of a continental breakup and, if successful, can lead to the formation of a new ocean basin.”
She says an example of a place on Earth where this has happened is the South Atlantic Ocean, which resulted from the breakup of South America and Africa around 138million years ago.
A version of this story appeared on news.com.au
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