Urban Areas within Rift Valleys

Rift valley in Ecuador: Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rift_valley

Many are familiar with the Great Rift Valley of eastern Africa. But, it is certainly not the only rift valley on Earth. In fact, there are a number of rift valleys (also sometimes referred to as grabens) located on the continents and in the seas/oceans. The following is the definition of “rift valley” provided by the National Geographic Society and a cross-section of the East African Rift System.

A rift valley is a lowland region that forms where Earth’s tectonic plates move apart, or rift. Rift valleys are found both on land and at the bottom of the ocean, where they are created by the process of seafloor spreading. Rift valleys differ from river valleys and glacial valleys in that they are created by tectonic activity and not the process of erosion.”

For those cities lying within these rift valleys/grabens, they face unique planning and emergency preparedness challenges. Not only are earthquakes a very real possibility due to the seismic forces that created the rift valley in the first place, but longer-term for potential volcanic activity is too. These two primary geologic forces can lead to secondary hazards such as landslides, topographic upheaval, land subsidence, and soil erosion.

Here are graphics showing some of the significant and highly populated continental rift valleys on Earth, followed by a list of some of the major cities located within a Rift Valley or Graben.


Rio Grande Rift Valley in the Albuquerque area – Source: nmnaturalhistory.org

Expanded view of the Rio Grande Rift Valley of Colorado and New Mexico – Source: en.wikipedia.org


Source: en.wikipeida.org


Source: en.wikipedia.org


Source: en.wikipedia.org


Source: en.wikipedia.org


Source: en.wikipedia.org


Jordan River Rift Valley – Source: slide serve.com


Source: researchgate.net


Oslo Graben (Rift) shown in red – Source: eurare.eu

Rift Valleys in India – Source: mantle plumes.org

Below a partial list of some of the major cities directly located within or along a continental rift valley or graben show above. Several other cities impacted by rift valleys/grabens not pictured above are also identified.

  • Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Aqaba, Jordan
  • Asker, Norway
  • Asuncion, Paraguay
  • Awasa, Ethiopia
  • Basel, Switzerland
  • Beit She’an, Israel
  • Bujumbura, Burundi
  • Bukoba, Tanzania
  • Colmar, France
  • Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
  • Eldoret, Kenya
  • Entebbe, Uganda
  • Falkirk, Scotland, UK
  • Fort Portal, Uganda
  • Gisenyi, Rwanda
  • Glasgow, Scotland, UK
  • Goma, Congo
  • Guatemala City, Guatemala (Guatemala City Valley Graben – not pictured above)
  • Gulu, Uganda
  • Hoima, Uganda
  • Jabalpur, India
  • Jericho, Israel
  • Jinja, Uganda
  • Kampala, Uganda
  • Karlsruhe, Germany
  • Kibuye, Rwanda
  • Kigali, Rwanda
  • Kira Town, Uganda
  • Kiryat Shmona, Israel
  • Kitgum, Uganda
  • Kumi Town, Uganda
  • Lake Tahoe, California-Nevada (Lake Tahoe Basin Graben – not pictured above)
  • Lira, Uganda
  • Lukaya, Uganda
  • Mannheim, Germany
  • Masaka, Uganda
  • Mbalala, Uganda
  • Mbale, Kenya
  • Mbale, Uganda
  • Mubende, Uganda
  • Mukono Town, Uganda
  • Musoma, Tanzania
  • Mwanza, Tanzania
  • Nagpur, India
  • Nansana, Uganda
  • North Bay, Ontario, Canada
  • Oslo, Norway
  • Ottawa-Gatineau, Ontario/Quebec, Canada
  • Paraguari, Paraguay
  • Rahamundry, India
  • Sandvika, Norway
  • Saguenay, Quebec, Canada (Saguenay Graben – not pictured above)
  • San Jose, California – (Santa Clara Graben -not pictured above)
  • San Lorenzo, Paraguay
  • Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Severobaykalsk, Russia
  • Sheema, Uganda
  • Shinyanga, Tanzania
  • Singida, Tanzania
  • Slyudyanka, Russia
  • Stirling, Scotland, UK
  • Strasbourg, France
  • Villarica, Paraguay
  • Wakiso, Uganda

Narmada River Rift Valley in India – Source: en.wikipedia.org

For more information on Africa’s Great Rift Valley, here is a link through Amazon.com.*


*A small commission is earned from purchases that are made using these links to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


This entry was posted in Africa, Asia, cities, ecosystems, environment, Europe, geography, Geology, history, India, land use, Maps, nature, North America, Oceania, planning, rivers/watersheds, Science, South America, spatial design, topography, urban planning and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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