A 35-mile-long rift opened up in the Ethiopian desert in 2005, the result of tectonic plates slowly spreading the continent apart. (Photo credit: University of Rochester)
The Afar region of East Africa is experiencing dramatic changes due to rifting. Over time, these rifting events will reshape the African continent.
Each of the three plates in the Afar region is spreading at different speeds. The Arabian plate is moving away from Africa at a rate of about 1 inch per year, while the two African plates are separating between half an inch to 0.2 inches per year. The separation of these plates is creating a mid-ocean ridge system, where a new ocean will form.
Eventually, the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea will flood in over the Afar region and into the East African Rift Valley and become a new ocean in a bout 5 million years. When that happens that part of East Africa will become a separate continent.
Read more here: African Continent Slowly Peeling Apart