Friday 25 December 2020

Magnitude 4.4 Earthquake in northeast Eritrea.

The United States Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 4.4 Earthquake at a depth of 10.0 km, roughly 91 km to the north of the city of Ak'ordat in the Gash-Barka Region of Eritrea, slightly after 1.20 am local time on Friday 25 December 2020 (slightly after 10.20 pm on Thursday 24 December GMT). There are no reports of any damage or injuries from this quake, but people may have felt it locally.

The approximate location of the 25 December 2020 Eritrea Earthquake. USGS.

The deserts of Northern Ethiopia and Eritrea are extremely volcanically active, with dozens of volcanoes fed by an emerging divergent margin along the East African Rift; the volcano Erta Ale is on the Ethiopian Rift, the boundary between the Nubian Plate and the Danakil Microplate. The African Plate is slowly splitting apart along the Ethiopian Rift and the East African Rift to the south (which is splitting the Nubian Plate to the West from the Somali Plate to the East). Arabia was a part of Africa till about thirty million years ago, when it was split away by the opening of the Red Sea Rift (part of the same rift system), and in time the Ethiopian and East African Rifts are likely to split Africa into a number of new landmasses. This rifting exerts pressure on the rocks around the margin of the sea, slowly pushing them apart, not smoothly but in fits and starts as the pressure overcomes the tendency of the rocks to stick together, creating shocks that we experience as Earthquakes.

Rifting in East Africa. The Danakil Microplate is the red triangle to the east of the Afar depression at the southern end of the Red Sea. Università degli Studi di Firenze.

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