The Great African Rift Valley – an active seismic zone


(Posted 04th November 2014)

News from Tanzania confirm an earthquake in the wider area around the political capital of Dodoma last weekend, following a series of lesser shakes over the past couple of years. The strength was reported to be 5.1 on the open ended Richter scale, the strongest Tanzania experienced over the past 9 years. In 2005 was a series of minor quakes in the area around Mt. Ol Doinyo Lengai then followed by a 6.8 jolt which was felt across much of the wider region after which relative calm returned. No major damages or injuries were so far reported from the affected area.

East Africa is traversed by a major continental fault line which runs down the Great East African Rift Valley’s two major arms, including the Albertine Rift and has a number of dormant volcanoes, the highest being Mt. Kilimanjaro, followed by Mt. Kenya and Mt. Meru.

However there are a number of other Holocene volcanoes in Tanzania but none active like Ol Doinyo Lengai which towers over the Lake Natron plains. Ol Doinyo Lengai however pales in terms of activity compared with Eastern Congo’s Mt. Nyiragongo which is the arguably one of the most active in the wider Eastern African region. One of the eight Virunga volcanoes, six of the others being extinct, is Nyiragongo towering over the town of Goma and has erupted several times over the past decades, the worst of the recent eruptions in 2002 having swept into the city and into Lake Kivu but also across part of the airport’s runway. In 2006 and 2010 did other eruptions follow but of lesser magnitude. A second of the eight is also active, Mt. Nyamuragira, with over 40 recorded eruptions over the past 130 years, showing that the forces of nature continue to lay in wait and need constant watching.

%d bloggers like this: