STS099-702-45
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Image Caption: Ethiopian Rift
The Ethiopian rift is a relatively young part of the vast East African
rift system, which stretches from the Mediterranean coast to Mozambique
on the Indian Ocean. Continental crust is still being pulled apart in
this region -- an ocean basin has not yet formed, as has occurred in the
Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. Fault-bounded depressions in the rift
valley are filled with lakes (sharp, straight lake shorelines), which
are not yet connected by through-flowing streams. The northernmost is
Lake Ziway; Lakes Langano (east), Abiyata (west), and Shala (south) form
the cluster of three; still farther south is Lake Awasa. Volcanic vents
are aligned along rift-valley faults (dark shield-shaped area in NE);
successive lava flows from such fissure vents eventually build extensive
basalt plateaus, as in the adjacent Ethiopian Highlands.