African continent split likely cause of quake - expert

2014-08-06 10:47

Johannesburg - An expert says Tuesday's 5.5 magnitude earthquake in Orkney may have been caused by movements of the Earth’s crust in the Rift Valley in Ethiopia.

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According to Beeld, these movements place stress on the Earth's crust, which needs to release this stress somewhere, and on Tuesday it happened near Orkney.

Dr Herman van Niekerk, a specialist in structural geology at the department of geology at the University of Johannesburg, told Beeld the African continent is slowly ripping apart, with a giant tear stretching from the Rift Valley to northern Mozambique.

The eastern section of this tear is moving away from the rest of the continent at about 2.5cm per year, according to The Basement Geographer. The tear will eventually result in a new tectonic plate and a new continent containing most of Africa's east coast, known as the Somali plate.

Van Niekerk said it was unlikely that mining activity had caused the quake, pointing out that the epicentre was 10km underground, while the deepest mines in the area were only 4km deep.

Van Niekerk told Sapa that the quake, which killed one person, could be considered big, but it was not uncommon.

The Council for GeoScience's Michelle Grobbelaar told Eyewitness News that the quake was not related to mining or fracking, saying the area had experienced earthquakes in the past. She added that the depth of the quake caused the tremor to spread widely, which is why it was felt over large parts of the country.


  • Thato Majele - 2014-08-06 10:56

    If Africa is really splitting, it would be nice if South Africa could just break off and become an island/continent like Australia. Then we would not have to worry about illegal immigrants swimming to our borders.

      Ben S - 2014-08-06 11:08

      Good to know I was not the only one thinking of that.

      Wesley Graham Umpleby - 2014-08-06 11:10

      If it is only the Eastern part of Africa that splits... does that mean you get to keep the ANC as the government also?

      Lucia Maile - 2014-08-06 11:10

      Well said Thato

      Steven Bresler - 2014-08-06 11:11

      We were saying the same thing in the office this morning. Then you will have to go "overseas" to Zim and Botswana.

      kalabafazi - 2014-08-06 11:14

      The thing is that the split will occur along the East Coast around Somalia. Not even a giant earth movement is going to get us rid of Zimbabwe.

      Daisy Jones - 2014-08-06 11:21

      Where there's a will there's a way.

      Jurgen Eksteen - 2014-08-06 11:28

      Australia has a MASSIVE headache of illegal immigrants coming by boat from the Philippines every week. If they want to come, they'll find a way.

      Chase Cameron - 2014-08-06 11:52

      Just as long as it breaks apart at the border with Zim.

      Gideon Jordaan - 2014-08-06 12:02

      My thoughts exactly :)

      David Joffe - 2014-08-06 12:17

      @Thato Majele Have you ever considered that the concept of "illegal immigrant" is based on colonially defined borders (cf. Berlin Conference 1884) ... the borders (and the concept of "illegal immigrant") were a white man's invention that restricted black people across Africa from exercising their right to travel across the African continent - they were more free to travel before colonialists came and said such traveling is "illegal". How can an African be 'illegal' just for traveling in Africa? I'm sure I'll be downvoted but it's the truth.

      Punungwe - 2014-08-06 12:33

      By the time that happens, your bones will be a fossil.

      Thuto Moloi - 2014-08-06 12:36

      @Andrie, why so serious, or dont you make jokes like this in Zim..

      Sean Dalgety - 2014-08-06 12:37

      Elect a government that will stop it.

      Gavin Venter - 2014-08-06 13:28

      As lords and masters of all they they survey I'm sure the ANC will setup a committee to investigate this earth shaking stuff

      Skye Walker - 2014-08-07 08:17

      David, we are not a Shengen area like (most of) the western part of Europe. There you are free to roam through those countries without requiring a visa. Many African countries require a visa prior to anyone (including those from other African countries) entering. The visa requirement is a law. Should you not have one when entering a country, that makes it illegal. Should the person settle in the country, that makes them an immigrant hence the concept illegal immigrant.

      Gram Gram - 2014-08-07 08:47

      Let the Somalian Pirates float away on their own island

      Gail Hayes-Bean - 2014-08-07 09:18

      One would then need a navy because they would become boat people. Don't be daft!

      David Joffe - 2014-08-07 18:18

      @Jan Vermaak "did you ever thing that you put a wall around your house for a reason?" Oh look, "swart gevaar" arguments in 2014. You're living in Africa, if you think black people are scary perhaps you should think about moving, because you're surrounded by a billion Africans to the north and only deep blue sea to the south, west and east. @Skye "The visa requirement is a law" Yes, Apartheid was also law, what's your point? Some laws are unjust. This is one of them.

      David Joffe - 2014-08-07 18:25

      @Jan Vermaak In seriousness, if you are worried about crime, I think it's perfectly fine to create localized gated communities. But you simply can't rightfully create a "gated community" 1.2 million square kilometers large without violating the natural rights of others to freedom of movement, and freedom live, work, settle, trade etc., as you don't own that 1.2 million square kilometers of land.

  • Miles Lancmore - 2014-08-06 10:56

    This is worthy reporting!

      BJ Pieman - 2014-08-06 12:22

      Not really. The rift end in a triple junction near the border tripoint of SA, Zimbabwe and Mozambiqe, where it splits into the Limpopo rift and the Lobombo monocline. Orkney is nowhere near active rifting. The depth of 10km is automatically assigned to all detected events, if it stays at 10 km it usually means there is insufficient info to estimate the depth. And van Niekerk's last scientific publication was back in 2010, that was about raspite in Namibia. So he is hardly an expert on tectonics and earthquakes.

      Thuto Moloi - 2014-08-06 12:41

      nobody likes a smartass...

      Mpho Selepe - 2014-08-07 14:48

      @ Thato Moloi, he is not a smart ass, he/she is informed, and they are sharing their knowledge, you should be thankful and not show jealousy with little stupid remarks, and to that effect, it makes you a dumb ass, read a book and be informed as well. @BJ, thanks for sharing!...

  • Clive Toerien - 2014-08-06 11:08

    so by the year 3000 it would've moved 2,5m away, looks like I won't be around to witness it (-:

      kalabafazi - 2014-08-06 11:41

      If you were around still, you definitely would be tired of waiting...

      Chris May - 2014-08-06 11:43

      Hang in there, Clive

      WollieVerstege - 2014-08-06 12:16

      Well whether we are here would depend on the advances in medical technology :)

      Tommy Jones - 2014-08-06 12:18

      By the year 3000 a 24.65m wide "river" will probably divide the two plates. Still easy to cross.

      trev2 - 2014-08-06 12:22

      There is no guarantee that the 2.5cm is constant. Who's to say the speed of the movement won't increase or decrease in future?

  • Mabandla Mkhize - 2014-08-06 11:09

    do we also blame JZ for this!!

      Ben S - 2014-08-06 11:13

      No use. Mac will cover for him.

      Grant Montgomery854 - 2014-08-06 11:18

      Zuma would apply his mind to this if had one.

      Candice Konstantellos - 2014-08-06 11:18

      ... I thought it was JZ dropping his fat wallet...

      Grant Montgomery854 - 2014-08-06 11:20

      Zuma would apply his mind to this if had one.

      Joe Soap - 2014-08-06 11:37

      Don't be silly Mabandla Mkhize!!!!! He will call a massive conference to discuss what happened, waste about R10million of the tax payers money on it, pocket R5million and blame apartheid. In SA, its always apartheids fault, even the earthquake that started in Ethiopia.

      trev2 - 2014-08-06 12:17

      I have it on good authority that the split passes right through the middle of Nkandla!

      Margaret Cox - 2014-08-06 13:07

      I thought it was Khulubuse falling out of bed...

      Realizing SA - 2014-08-06 15:45

      @Joe - Hahaaaaa, hoehahahaha great one Joe! couldn't have been said better man!!

      Anthoula Joshua - 2014-08-06 17:24

      So refreshing to see some humour everyone. One thing we can do in SA is laugh at ourselves. We must do more of that. The world is a hard and serious place. Humour is good for us.

  • Christo Meyer - 2014-08-06 11:11

    The gods must be crazy..... Would like to hear all our religous folk's views on this.....

      Revelgen - 2014-08-06 11:18

      Personally, I hate the word 'religious' as that covers a multitude of sins, but suggest you carefully read the 24th chapter of Matthew in a modern version of the Bible. You might find it rather enlightening....

      Psalm Proverb - 2014-08-06 11:25

      This is nothing. You should really start worrying when islands disappear - not when they might be formed by breaking away from large continents. Still, it is best to know Jesus Christ and His salvation - irrespective of global developments.

      Reality - 2014-08-06 11:31

      Rather go for Allah..his army is stronger.

      Reality - 2014-08-06 11:31

      ..and maybe Thor..he has got a hammer.

      Joe Soap - 2014-08-06 11:34

      I would..... but please don't preach to me.

      Mc Apple - 2014-08-06 11:47

      Well Christo, if you take a step back and know that Africans are always hoping for a one African state called Azania, black power, black unity and all that and now knowing that the continent is splitting one has to wonder what the message from the Gods is. Then again reality is a real pain in the butt for this continent and it's people.

      cobienk - 2014-08-06 11:50

      Quite easy... Just read Revelation the last chapter in the Bible. The four blood moons coming are also signs. The first one will be in September. We do not know when, but we do know that Christ will return...

      Reality - 2014-08-06 11:54

      > We do not know when, but we do know that Christ will return... ..and so will the terminator..I'll be back

      Christo Meyer - 2014-08-06 11:58

      So to those that quoted from the bible, any proof that anything in the bible is true? Or is it merely a collection of errant figments of numerous zealots vividly collective imaginations...? And to the one that quoted Allah. Good on'ya mate, did you realise that the Islamic Allah and the Christian god is EXACTLY the same god?

      Cody Mk - 2014-08-06 12:08

      Cobien, what a sweet spirit u have :)!!! ###Yes he will and earthquakes are one of the signs that our redemption draweth near, which is rapture, and there follows a tribulations which will be like hell raining on disobedient people and atheists! As Jesus said"These are the beginning of sorrows" or I canb say birth pains

      HumanityCalls - 2014-08-06 12:40

      Yesterday was the Jewish holiday of Tisha B'Av. Google "Tisha B'Av" and you will find out what its all about and has happened in the past. A quick overview, its one of the saddest days for Jews. Its a 25 hour fast day with mourning the destruction of the two Temples that stood in Jerusalem at different dates in history. The earthquake strangely could be connected some how. You can join the dots if you like too.

  • Yvonne Bokkelkamp - 2014-08-06 11:30

    Just pondering in the event of a split what the new continent will be names? Hopefully not Nkandla!

      Jan Grimbeek - 2014-08-06 11:53

      Maybe.... Newkandla.

      Teko Mohaeka - 2014-08-06 12:38

      Orania Madiba to appeace everybody even Ou Verwoerd lolment

  • Gerhard Meyer - 2014-08-06 11:34

    at 2,5cm per year I reckon anybody could step onto the new continent for quite a couple years before you need to swim

      Tawizee - 2014-08-06 11:54

      I think for hundreds of years. It would have moved a mere 25cm in 100 years :-D

      Tawizee - 2014-08-06 14:00

      Take a chill Jonathan. this is African time we are talking about.

  • mamba - 2014-08-06 11:35

    @ Clive Toerien - At 2.5 m you will not need to have a taxi to go back to Mother continent. Just a walk in the park!!!

  • Kabelo Mocwane - 2014-08-06 11:38

    Interesting but scary analysis.

  • Teko Mohaeka - 2014-08-06 12:20

    Looking forward to seeing a new continent without the likes of Nigeria.I'll be overjoyed even in my grave

      Anthoula Joshua - 2014-08-06 17:28

      Europe will be washed away. America split in half before Africa breaks up. The continent itself is as solid as an Elephants foot. The people must just learn to appreciate what God gave them and look after it.

  • Chris Du Preez - 2014-08-06 12:23

    24.65m in year 3000. However the resrvoir induced seisemisity should speed things up a tad.

      Tommy Jones - 2014-08-06 12:25

      Lets hope.

  • Chris Du Preez - 2014-08-06 12:35

    Nope the USA is epicentre for the alien invasions, monsters from the sea, tornados, conspiracy theories etc. And Homer Simpson. Not tsunamis.

  • Tshidi Rantai - 2014-08-06 12:38

    I'm wondering how this affects Bela Bela area seeing that its contributed by closeness to the volcano folds. Maybe we should rather expect volcano eruption before the split. Cant wait...

  • TaxStrike - 2014-08-06 13:20

    Oh good. Can we free Cape Town from the rest of the mess please Mother Earth. Thanks.

      Anthoula Joshua - 2014-08-06 17:26

      Can the Peninsula become and island???

      Adam Botshelo - 2014-08-07 13:33

      Ok Taxstrike mother earth heard you and she say, you should go all the way north until you find europe then you'll be free from all the mess.

  • Dhlamini Reddyd - 2014-08-06 13:49

    I think Hellen Zille will aproach the public protector's office for investigation if whether the president didn't benefited in this tremor.,

  • Dhlamini Reddyd - 2014-08-06 13:49

    I think Hellen Zille will aproach the public protector's office for investigation if whether the president didn't benefited in this tremor.,

      truthbetold221 - 2014-08-06 13:58

      You said "I think"

      Anthoula Joshua - 2014-08-06 17:25

      Go Helen!!!! LOL.

      Johan van Papendorp - 2014-08-07 03:33

      Good point Reddy. He and/or his colleahues in crime are probably scheming how to benefit from the tragedy as you speak. Thanks for reminding us.

  • truthbetold221 - 2014-08-06 13:54

    Couldn't it have found its way to Nkandla?

  • Munyaradzi Gandanga - 2014-08-06 15:31

    You need to have a stadium filled with sits really

  • John Lebitso - 2014-08-07 06:37

    Y klerksdorp towns r badly affected,we know there s sinking problem in Stilfontein/ Khuma ,the cause is the mining activity,our so called scientist are talking another stories now,next time the whole area will be flatten cos they shift the blame

  • Tavengwa Chivirira Muchini - 2014-08-07 07:13

    Hey Expert,stop telling us your hard fried lies.If the split is in Ethiopia how does it get transmitted somewhat silently all the way to Jhb without being felt by other countries sitting along the cracking plate?

      Siebert Mazus - 2014-08-07 07:24

      Ever heard of the Great Rift Valley?

      johnpower - 2014-08-08 00:46

      Very true - the rift valley is very far from south africa - too conincidental in middle of goldfields!

  • Mopeli Fabiane - 2014-08-07 08:29

    As Africa splits, I wish SA breaks into two and Lesotho remains so that we have coast.

      John Lebitso - 2014-08-07 15:44


  • Dumeza Nkala - 2014-08-07 08:34

    You probably don't want to drift away from other African countries, with your everyday toy toys, free RDP housing, corruption, crime etc.! You will then fight each other to extinction in the damning cold, as I assume that your imaginary continent will be somewhere further to the south..(lo)

  • Jen Rose - 2014-08-07 10:07

    i am opting to ""jump over"" once the split happens to the continent where the DA rules! well said Alicalouise!!!! No real major issues in western cape, everybody black and white just loves each other and gets on with life together. A truly ideal place to live!

  • Ilan David Lustig - 2014-08-07 10:25

    Immanuel Velikovsky was right!

  • Helen De Roubaix - 2014-08-07 12:08

    Having glanced through these comments, I'm shocked [no pun intended] that the point is missed completely and once again it becomes a mudslinging political ''debate''. If the extreme mining and the terryfing plans to pump all our gas out of the Karoo, these quakes will intensify and become way more common, not to mention the fact that the plan to pump a previously gas filled space [low weight matter] full of sea water will change the subteranean weight equilibrium... that should be fun. oh, and of course it goes without saying that this saline water will runoff into Southern Africa largets subteranean aquifer and spoil our water for ever and ever. gee they really thought this one through...

  • Alan John Ingram - 2014-08-07 12:50

    how can the movements of the Earth’s crust in the Rift Valley in Ethiopia be the cause of Tuesdays earth quake when the epic centre was in Orkney !!!!

      Kimberley Hubert - 2014-08-07 12:57


      Kimberley Hubert - 2014-08-07 12:58

      this comment is an "epic" fail...

  • Andrie Langa - 2014-08-07 13:29

    Most of the commentators are NHAUPY addictive personalities

  • Anthony Schmidt - 2014-08-07 14:54

    David Joffe gets the dimwit award for the dumbest comment today. There are borders through out the world that have nothing to do with colonials you dumb SH*t. Asia, The Americas and all the other continents have borders that have nothing to do with restricting the black african from travelling!

  • Heleen Van Niekerk McDonald - 2014-08-07 17:27

    Read Sagaria 14:4 -5. Astonishing! This split fit into the prophesy of the very end of the end times when Jesus will land with his feet on Mount Olive in Jerusalem.

  • David Joffe - 2014-08-07 18:15

    @Jan Vermaak "did you ever thing that you put a wall around your house for a reason?" Oh look, "swart gevaar" arguments in 2014. You're living in Africa, if you think black people are scary perhaps you should think about moving, because you're surrounded by a billion Africans to the north and only deep blue sea to the south, west and east. @Skye "The visa requirement is a law" Yes, Apartheid was also a law, what's your point? Some laws are unjust. This is one of them.

  • Alani Keiser - 2014-08-22 11:17

    So funny reading the comments - you all seem to hate each other when it comes to politics - but when there's mention of a split in the continent.. you all seem unified South Africans!

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