The United States Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 5.2 Earthquake at a depth of 10.0 km, in the northern part of the Afar Region of Ethiopia, slightly before 1.30 pm local time (slightly before 10.30 am GMT) on Saturday 24 March 2018. There are no reports of any damage or injuries arising from this quake, but it was feltlocally, and it is possible that some minor damage has occurred.
The approximate location of the 24 March 2018 Ethiopian Earthquake. USGS.
The deserts of Northern Ethiopia and Southern Eritrea are extremely volcanically active, with dozens of volcanoes fed by an emerging divergent margin along the East African Rift; 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.
Witness accounts of Earthquakes can help geologists to understand these events, and the structures that cause them. The international non-profit organisation Earthquake Report is interested in hearing from people who may have felt this event; if you felt this quake then you can report it to Earthquake Report here.
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