The Info List - Albertine Rift

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The ALBERTINE RIFT is the western branch of the East African Rift
East African Rift
, covering parts of Uganda
, the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
(DRC), Rwanda
, Burundi
and Tanzania
. It extends from the northern end of Lake Albert to the southern end of Lake Tanganyika
Lake Tanganyika
. The geographical term includes the valley and the surrounding mountains.


* 1 Geology * 2 Lakes and rivers * 3 Mountains * 4 Ecology * 5 See also * 6 References * 7 Sources


Map of the region showing the Albertine Rift
Albertine Rift
to the west

The Albertine Rift
Albertine Rift
and the mountains are the result of tectonic movements that are gradually splitting the Somali Plate away from the rest of the African continent. The mountains surrounding the rift are composed of uplifted Pre-Cambrian basement rocks , overlaid in parts by recent volcanic rocks .


The northern part of the rift is crossed by two large mountain ranges, the Rwenzori Mountains between Lake Albert and Lake Rutanzige (formerly Lake Edward) and the Virunga Mountains between Lake Rutanziga and Lake Kivu
Lake Kivu
. The Virungas form a barrier between the Nile Basin to the north and east and the Congo Basin to the west and south. Lake Rutenzige is fed by several large rivers, the Rutshuru River being one, and drains to the north through the Semliki River
Semliki River
into Lake Albert. The Victoria Nile flows from Lake Victoria into the northern end of Lake Albert and exits as the White Nile from a point slightly to the west, flowing north to the Mediterranean.

South of the Virungu, Lake Kivu
Lake Kivu
drains to the south into Lake Tanganyika through the Ruzizi River . Lake Tanganyika
Lake Tanganyika
then drains into the Congo River
Congo River
via the Lukuga River . It seems likely that the present hydrological system was established quite recently when the Virunga volcanoes erupted and blocked the northward flow of water from Lake Kivu
Lake Kivu
into Lake Edward
Lake Edward
, causing it instead to discharge southward into Lake Tanganyika. Before that Lake Tanganyika, or separate sub-basins in what is now the lake, may have had no outlet other than evaporation. The Lukuga has formed relatively recently, providing a route through which aquatic species of the Congo Basin could colonize Lake Tanganyika, which formerly had distinct fauna.


Mount Stanley
Mount Stanley
in the Rwenzori range. With an elevation of 5,109 m (16,763 ft), it is the tallest mountain in the Albertine Rift
Albertine Rift
and the third tallest in Africa.

From north to south the mountains include the Lendu Plateau , Rwenzori Mountains , Virunga Mountains and Itombwe Mountains . The Ruwenzori mountains have been identified with Ptolemy's "Mountains of the Moon". The range covers an area 120 kilometres (75 mi) long and 65 kilometres (40 mi) wide. This range includes Mount Stanley
Mount Stanley
at 5,119 metres (16,795 ft), Mount Speke at 4,890 metres (16,040 ft) and Mount Baker at 4,843 metres (15,889 ft). The Virunga Massif along the border between Rwanda
and the DRC consists of eight volcanoes. Two of these, Nyamuragira and