Wednesday 5 April 2017

Magnitude 6.5 Earthquake in Central Botswana.

The United States Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 6.5 Earthquake at a depth of 29 km roughly 132 km to the west of Moijabana in Central Botswana, at about 7.40 pm local time (about 5.40 pm GMT) on Monday 3 March 2017. This is a large Earthquake by Southern African standards, and was felt across most of Botswana, Zimbabwe and eastern South Africa, as well as parts of Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique and Swaziland. The area has been hit by a number of aftershocks, including a Magnitude 5.0 Earthquake on Wednesday 5 March. Despite the size of these events there have been no reports of any damage or casualties.

The approximate location of the 3 March 2017 Botswana Earthquake. USGS.

Earthquakes are rare in Southern Africa, making this one of the largest Earthquakes ever recorded inthe country. Because of this rarity it is hard to make precise judgements about the cause of quakes in the region, due to a paucity of data. Botswana is close the southern end of the Great Rift Valley exits the continent and passes out under the Indian Ocean. The Great Rift Valley is slowly splitting the African Plate in two allow a line from the Red Sea through Ethiopia, and which includes the great lakes and volcanoes of east-central Africa. This has the potential to open into a new ocean over the next few tens of millions of years, splitting Africa into two new, smaller, continents; Nubia to the west and Somalia to the east.

Movement on the African Rift Valley, with associated volcanoes. Rob Gamesby/Cool Geography.

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