Thursday, 21 January 2021

Magnitude 4.2 Earthquake in Northern Province, Zambia.

The United States Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 4.2 Earthquake at a depth of 10 km roughly 5 km to the southwest of the town of Mbala in Northern Province, Zambia, slightly after 6.45 am local time (slightly after 4.45 am GMT) on Thursday 21 January 2021. A quake of this size is not normally large enough to present any threat to Human life or property, but may have been felt locally.

 
The approximate location of the 21 January 2021 Northern Province Earthquake. USGS.

Earthquakes are rare in Southern Africa, making this one of the largest Earthquakes ever recorded in the 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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