Giant crack adds fuel to theory Africa will one day split in two

A giant and mysterious crack in the earth has emerged in Kenya, in an event which supports theories the continent of Africa will one day split in two.

The 20-metre-wide crack emerged overnight on Monday (local time) in an area slightly west of the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, CBS News reported. 

At 15 metres deep, the split has sliced through a highway and terrified locals.

While some scientists believe the crack was caused by a rainstorm, Smithsonian Institution geologist Ben Andrews says its true cause is due to the movement of the Earth's tectonic plates - a shift that's occurring about 2.5cm each year.

It's this process that will eventually cause Africa to split in two, Mr Andrews told CBS.

By eventually, he means in around 50 million years' time - so it's safe to say Africans won't be seeing anything quite so drastic in their lifetime.

While she agrees Africa is slowly splitting, US geologist Wendy Bohon says it's more likely the crack was due to heavy rainfall.

"I think it's an Earth fissure, the same sort of thing that you see in Arizona after heavy rain storms," Bohon told CBS News.

"To me it looks pretty cut and dry. It wasn't a result of the tectonics, it was the result of the weather."