The Great Rift Valley extends some 4,000 miles southward from Syria north of Israel, through the Gulf of Aqaba, through Ethiopia, and all the way to Mozambique in southeast Africa. It harbors a giant fault, which has been under investigation as a model for sea floor spreading. A recent geologic event rent a gaping crack through the desert of Ethiopia, causing safety concerns for locals. These crustal plate motions may foreshadow rifting events further north in the Great Rift Valley.
The outmoded uniformitarian interpretation that is widely held by contemporary scientists insists that slow and gradual processes formed earth’s features. But the observation of Ethiopia’s new rift, like so many other observations, counters this “uniformity” thinking. Cindy Ebinger, professor at the University of Rochester and co-author of a study on the Ethiopian site, expressed surprise at how quickly the trench rifted. “We know that seafloor ridges are created by a similar intrusion of magma into a rift, but we never knew that a huge length of the ridge could break open at once like this.”1
The surprising suddenness of the crustal movements underlying the rift system may match the suddenness of a related valley formation event foretold by Zechariah in the sixth century BC. The 14th chapter of his book states:
Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave [be split] in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove [or move] toward the north, and half of it toward the south.2
Ethiopia is near the southern end of the fault. But near the northern end and still within the Great Rift Valley lies the Dead Sea in Israel. The Mount of Olives is only about 15 miles to its west. Between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives lies the Kidron Valley, which carries the seasonal Kidron stream on a 20-mile-long, 4,000-foot drop eastward to the Dead Sea. A rift could open up along the Kidron Valley, splitting the Mount of Olives in two, as predicted.
According to area geologists, Israel has been ripe for significant seismic activity, even as southern portions of the Great Rift Valley thousands of miles away are actively spreading. Dr. Shmuel Marco of Tel Aviv University told the Jerusalem Post in 2007 that “a major quake should be expected any time because almost a whole millennium has passed since the last strong earthquake.”3 He had studied geological and archaeological evidence, as well as historical records, to establish that significant earthquakes—which are associated with rifting—had been occurring every 400 years or so up until that time.
After about 1,000 years with no major quakes, the buildup of pressure from shifting crustal plates means that “it’s going to snap eventually.”3 And when it does, it would not come as a surprise to find that it will be accompanied by other significant events also prophesied in the Bible, including the judgment of wicked nations assembled in the Kidron Valley4 and the return of Christ to earth along with His host.5
- African Desert Rift Confirmed as New Ocean in the Making. University of Rochester press release, November 2, 2009, reporting research published in Ayele, A. et al. 2009. September 2005 mega-dike emplacement in the Manda-Harraro nascent oceanic rift (Afar depression). Geophysical Research Letters. 36, L20306.
- Zechariah 14:3-4.
- Teitelbaum, I. The big one is due. The Jerusalem Post. Posted on jpost.com November 14, 2007, accessed November 4, 2009.
- Joel 3:11-12.
- Revelation 19:11-21.
* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.
Article posted on November 19, 2009.