The boundary where earthquake activity occurs along rift valleys is a divergent plate boundary. Divergent plate boundaries are places where two tectonic plates are moving away from each other. As the plates move apart, the crust between them thins and cracks, forming a rift valley. Earthquakes are common along divergent plate boundaries because the crust is constantly being stretched and broken.
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The Great Rift Valley in East Africa is a good example of a divergent plate boundary. The Great Rift Valley is a long, narrow valley that stretches from Ethiopia in the north to Mozambique in the south. The valley was formed as the African Plate split in two. Earthquakes are common along the Great Rift Valley, and the region has experienced some of the largest and most destructive earthquakes in history.
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Other examples of divergent plate boundaries include the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the East Pacific Rise. These ridges are formed as the North American Plate and the South American Plate move away from each other in the Atlantic Ocean, and as the Pacific Plate moves away from the North American Plate in the Pacific Ocean. Earthquakes are common along these ridges, as well.
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Divergent plate boundaries are not only important for earthquake activity. They are also important for the formation of new crust. As the plates move apart, new magma rises from the mantle and fills in the cracks. This magma eventually cools and solidifies, forming new crust. The process of divergent plate boundaries is how the Earth’s crust is growing.