Rift Valley

Rift Valley

Rift Valley Landforms Have 2 Main Characteristics:

  1. A portion of land that drops, forming a valley
  2. Bordered by fault zones and separating land masses

Example of a Rift Valley Landform:
East Rift Valley, Taiwan
The rift valley picture above is of  Thingvellir National Park  located in Iceland.  The North American and Eurasian tectonic plates separate at this location.

What is a Rift Valley Landform?

A rift valley is a valley or depression in the land bordered by fault zones and separating tectonic plates.

How are Rift Valleys Formed?

The depressed areas of a rift valley are formed by one or more grabens. A graben is a fallen portion of land with faults on 2 or more sides. When outer landmasses move away from the fault zones, the land in the middle can slowly drop during a period of thousands of years. This forms a lower portion of land called a graben. A graben may continue to drop and become the floor of a rift valley.

How Large is a Rift Valley?

A rift valley may be from a few hundred feet wide to many miles across. The depression in the Great Rift Valley of East Africa is up to 37 miles wide.

Where Can a Rift Valley Be Found?

Rift valleys can be found in areas that have faults in the Earth´s crust where separation of land masses has occurred. Rift valleys also occur on the ocean floor at mid-ocean ridges where the seafloor separates between tectonic plates.

Famous Rift Valleys and Facts

• East Rift Valley, Taiwan
• Jordan Rift Valley, Israel and Jordan
• Baikal Rift Valley, southern Siberia
• Great Rift Valley, East Africa

The East Rift Valley in Taiwan runs along the east side of the Island near the seacoast. It lies east of the Central Mountain Range that dominates the island. The Eurasian tectonic plate lies on one side and the Philippine plate on the other side of the rift valley. They have slowly moved apart and the rift valley has dropped.

The region has been designated a National Scenic Area, attracting many tourists to see the rivers, trails, waterfalls, mountains and canyons in the area. The Jordan Rift Valley extends across the Israel-Jordan border and includes the Dead Sea, having the lowest elevation of any land area in the world at 1,237 feet below sea level.

The Baikal Rift Valley in southern Siberia is deeper than any other continental rift valley. Lake Baikal fills the valley and is the deepest freshwater lake in the world at 3,893 feet. Almost 400 miles long, it is also the largest freshwater lake by volume of water.

The East African Rift, also called the Great Rift Valley in East Africa, is the largest continental rift valley on Earth, stretching for about 3000 miles north and south and reaching up to 37 miles wide. The deepest portion is 6,000 feet below the surrounding area. As the tectonic plates on each side continue to move apart, during the next 10 million years the East African Rift is expected to separate and form an ocean basin. Land east of the rift will then become a large island off the African coast.

Rift Valley Definition:

A rift valley is separating of land masses causing the ground to sink forming a valley.

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