African continent split likely cause of quake - expert

Johannesburg - An expert says Tuesday's 5.5 magnitude earthquake in Orkney may have been caused by movements of the Earth’s crust in the Rift Valley in Ethiopia.

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According to Beeld, these movements place stress on the Earth's crust, which needs to release this stress somewhere, and on Tuesday it happened near Orkney.

Dr Herman van Niekerk, a specialist in structural geology at the department of geology at the University of Johannesburg, told Beeld the African continent is slowly ripping apart, with a giant tear stretching from the Rift Valley to northern Mozambique.

The eastern section of this tear is moving away from the rest of the continent at about 2.5cm per year, according to The Basement Geographer. The tear will eventually result in a new tectonic plate and a new continent containing most of Africa's east coast, known as the Somali plate.

Van Niekerk said it was unlikely that mining activity had caused the quake, pointing out that the epicentre was 10km underground, while the deepest mines in the area were only 4km deep.

Van Niekerk told Sapa that the quake, which killed one person, could be considered big, but it was not uncommon.

The Council for GeoScience's Michelle Grobbelaar told Eyewitness News that the quake was not related to mining or fracking, saying the area had experienced earthquakes in the past. She added that the depth of the quake caused the tremor to spread widely, which is why it was felt over large parts of the country.


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Taichzanna Majele 2014-08-06 10:56:04 AM
If Africa is really splitting, it would be nice if South Africa could just break off and become an island/continent like Australia. Then we would not have to worry about illegal immigrants swimming to our borders.
Miles Lancmore 2014-08-06 10:56:08 AM
This is worthy reporting!
Clive Toerien 2014-08-06 11:08:45 AM
so by the year 3000 it would've moved 2,5m away, looks like I won't be around to witness it (-:
mabandla.mkhize 2014-08-06 11:09:09 AM
do we also blame JZ for this!!
Christo Meyer 2014-08-06 11:11:08 AM
The gods must be crazy..... Would like to hear all our religous folk's views on this.....
Yvonne Bokkelkamp 2014-08-06 11:30:25 AM
Just pondering in the event of a split what the new continent will be names? Hopefully not Nkandla!
lifeasitis 2014-08-06 11:34:49 AM
at 2,5cm per year I reckon anybody could step onto the new continent for quite a couple years before you need to swim
mamba 2014-08-06 11:35:16 AM
@ Clive Toerien - At 2.5 m you will not need to have a taxi to go back to Mother continent. Just a walk in the park!!!
kabelo.mocwane 2014-08-06 11:38:41 AM
Interesting but scary analysis.
Teko Mohaeka 2014-08-06 12:20:53 PM
Looking forward to seeing a new continent without the likes of Nigeria.I'll be overjoyed even in my grave