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Rift (geology)

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Rift Valley, Kenya Africa. Image provided by Classroom Clip Art (http://classroomclipart.com)
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Rift Valley, Kenya Africa. Image provided by Classroom Clip Art (http://classroomclipart.com)

In geology, a rift is a place where the Earth's crust and lithosphere are being pulled apart. Typical features are a central linear downdropped fault segment, called a graben, with parallel normal faulting and rift-flank uplifts on either side. The axis of the rift area commonly contains volcanic rocks and active volcanism is a part of many but not all active rift systems. Rifts are distinct from Mid-ocean ridges, where new oceanic crust and lithosphere is created by seafloor spreading. In rifts, no crust or lithosphere is produced. If rifting coninues, eventually a mid-ocean ridge may form, marking a divergent boundary between two tectonic plates. Failed rifts are ancient to modern features where continental rifting began, but then failed to continue. Typically the transition from rifting to spreading develops as three converging rifts over a hotspot. Two of these evolve to the point of seafloor spreadung, while the third ultimately fails, becoming an aulacogen.

Examples of rifts include:


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