AFAR TRIANGLE (Syllabus: GS Paper 1 – Geography)

News-CRUX-10     21st March 2024        

Context: Geologists predict that in 5 to 10 million years, the tectonic movement will eventually split the African continent into two, creating a new ocean basin.

Afar Triangle

  • About: East Africa hosts the continent's longest geological feature, the Great Rift Valley.
  • Geological Depression: The northernmost segment of the Great Rift Valley encompasses the vast geological depression known as the Afar Triangle.
  • Various Names: Also referred to as the Afar Depression, the Danakil Depression, or the Denakil Plain.
  • Origin of the Name: Named after the Afar Ethnic Group who reside in the region, while the term "triangle" reflects the shape of the depression on maps.
  • Geologic Dynamism: Recognized as East Africa's most geologically active area, featuring active volcanoes, salt lakes, and lava lakes.
  • Rifting Process: The separation of the tectonic plates has been ongoing for millions of years, evidenced by the rifting process seen in the Afar Triangle.
  • Recent Rift Formation: In 2005, a significant rift measuring 35 miles in length appeared in the Ethiopian desert, marking the continued separation of the African continent.
  • Deep-Seated Geologic Forces: This rift highlights the profound tectonic forces at play, as the Somali plate diverges from the Nubian plate, causing stretching and thinning of the Earth's crust.


  • About: The Danakil depression in northeastern Ethiopia is one of the world’s hottest places, with temperatures soaring due to its low elevation of 100 meters below sea level.
  • Formation: The Danakil plain took shape through the evaporation of an inland water body, leaving behind a stark landscape.
  • Hydrological Isolation: Within the Danakil region, water faces a unique fate as all incoming water evaporates, with no streams flowing out from this extreme environment.
  • Salt Cover: Over the expanse of the Danakil depression lies more than 10 lakh tonnes of salt, contributing to its distinct geological features.
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