It started with a small crack in 2005

Credits: A surveyor from the Ethiopian Mapping Agency examines a ground rupture created during the September rifting event. Image: Tim Wright, University of Leeds.

It began in 2005 when a 60 kilometer-long-crack (37 miles) opened up in the middle of the Afar desert in Ethiopia. For any region to change this much and this quickly is pretty astonishing, but there is a reason for it.

The crack opened up in a matter of days and was as much as 6 meters (20 feet) wide at some points. While we tend to view geography as something that moves slowly, it turns out this isn’t always the case.