Great Rift Valley
John Walter Gregory
John Walter Gregory, FRS, was a British geologist and explorer, known principally for his work on glacial geology and on the geography and geology of Australia and East Africa.-Early life:...
to the continuous geographic trench, approximately 6000 kilometres (3,728.2 mi) in length, that runs from northern Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....
in Southwest Asia
Western Asia, West Asia, Southwest Asia or Southwestern Asia are terms that describe the westernmost portion of Asia. The terms are partly coterminous with the Middle East, which describes a geographical position in relation to Western Europe rather than its location within Asia...
to central Mozambique
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...
in South East Africa. The name continues in some usages, although it is today considered geologically imprecise as it combines features that are today regarded as separate, although related, rift
In geology, a rift or chasm is a place where the Earth's crust and lithosphere are being pulled apart and is an example of extensional tectonics....
and fault systems. Today, the term is most often used to refer to the valley of the East African Rift
East African Rift
The East African Rift is an active continental rift zone in eastern Africa that appears to be a developing divergent tectonic plate boundary. It is part of the larger Great Rift Valley. The rift is a narrow zone in which the African Plate is in the process of splitting into two new tectonic plates...
, the divergent plate boundary which extends from the Afar Triple Junction
Afar Triple Junction
The Afar Triple Junction is a junction of three tectonic rifts centered in the Afar Depression, informally known as the Afar Triangle, of northeastern Africa. Here, the Red Sea Rift meets the Aden Ridge and the East African Rift...
southward across eastern Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...
, and is in the process of splitting the African Plate
The African Plate is a tectonic plate which includes the continent of Africa, as well as oceanic crust which lies between the continent and various surrounding ocean ridges.-Boundaries:...
into two new separate plates.