The Great Rift Valley

Great Rift Valley

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The Great Rift Valley System

Originally named the ‘Great Rift Valley’ by British Explorer John Walter Gregory, Great Rift Valley is a series of geographic trenches, approximately 9,600 kilometres (6,000 miles) in total length, that runs from the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon in Middle East to Mozambique in Southeast Africa. The term is most often used to refer to the East African Rift. The area is geologically active, and features volcanoes, hot springs, geysers, and frequent earthquakes. 

The East African Rift has two branches, the Western Rift Valley and the Eastern Rift Valley. The Western Rift Valley, the “Lake Albert Rift” or “Albertine Rift” contains the East African Great Lakes, and an Eastern Rift Valley bisects Kenya north-to-south on a line slightly west of Nairobi.

Rift Valley Lakes

The rift valley lakes are series of narrow, deep rift valleys in the East African Rift known simply as the Rift Valley lakes. They stretch from Ethiopia to Malawi and are sites of amazing biodiversity. They include freshwater lakes as well as saltwater. Rift Valley is deepest to the north of Nairobi. As the lakes in the Eastern Rift have no outlet to the sea and tend to be shallow, they have a high mineral content as the evaporation of water leaves the salts behind. Lake Magadi has high concentrations of soda and Lake Elmenteita, Lake Bogoria, and Lake Nakuru are all strongly alkaline, while the freshwater springs supplying Lake Naivasha make it a fresh water lake. Lake Natron  in Tanzania, is one of the shallow, alkali-rich soda lakes of the East African Rift. Its red color is a product of the pink salt-loving bacteria that live in the water.

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