Environment

What Made the Ground Split Open in Kenya?

Friday, 6 April

A house and sections of a highway near Nairobi, Kenya have been destroyed after the ground split beneath them. On March 18, resident Eliud Njoroge Mbugua and his wife noticed a crack in their floor. Within days, the house collapsed and was demolished, leaving Mbugua to salvage the remains.

Seismic activity, coupled with heavy rain, led to the rapid split. The rainy season hit Kenya especially hard in mid-March, destabilising the ash from a nearby volcano that had filled in the fissure. The volcanic soil is more easily washed away than the surrounding earth. As geologist David Adede explains, the crack reveals seismic instability. From the surface, the fault line’s exact location was indiscernible, until it was too late.