This area extends westwards from the floor of the Gregory Rift, includes the Kamasia Hills, and the western wall of the rift, marked by the impressive Elgeyo Escarpment which rises over 1500 m above the valley floor, to the western rift shoulder.
You are here
Kenya probably contains a greater volume of alkaline igneous rocks than any country in the world. From the northern boundary with Ethiopia to the Tanzanian border Kenya is traversed by the East African Rift along the floor and shoulders of which is a continuous cover of volcanic rocks, about half of which are basalts (Williams, 1972a) the rest comprising a broad spectrum of alkaline rocks including nephelinites, phonolites, peralkaline trachytes and rhyolites. The unbroken nature of these presents the difficulty of subdividing them into discrete localities, which is the style adopted for these volumes. There are many individual volcanoes, which are given their own accounts, but there are also huge areas of ‘plateau’ lavas and pyroclastic rocks that are not so readily subdivided. The system adopted has been to describe the rocks in terms of ‘degree’ and ‘quarter degree’ squares, generally corresponding to the areas covered in the Reports of the Geological Survey of Kenya. These areas are outlined on Fig. ?? Although it might be preferable to describe the geology within a full degree square, only in the northern half of the rift zone have recent reports been so organised. Most of the earlier reports, and all those for the southern half of the rift, consist of descriptions of quarter degree squares and it generally proved difficult to write a coherent account combining adjacent reports, because of inconsistent correlation between the sheets. In the southern half of the rift zone, therefore, many accounts are based on quarter degree squares only.
A full interpretation of the general geology, petrology, geochemistry, structure and geochronology of the volcanism along the Kenya rift is not within the remit of this chapter, but a number of review papers are available. Several comprehensive accounts have been published by Williams (1972a, 1978a and 1978b) that include consideration of the continuation of the volcanic rocks southwards into Tanzania, their volumes and temporal and spatial variations of petrography and chemistry. A description of the tectonic and magmatic evolution of the southern part of the rift zone is given by Baker et al. (1978), while Baker (1987) considers the petrology of the volcanic rocks exploring the variation of rock types and chemistry with time. A useful review of the stratigraphy, tectonic history, petrography and petrochemistry of the volcanism of southwest Kenya is that of Crossley and Knight (1981). The sequence and geochronology of the volcanic rocks are covered in considerable detail in Baker et al. (1971). Further dates are given in many subsequent papers including that by Jones and Lippard (1979). A general account of the major late Quaternary volcanoes within the rift will be found in Williams et al. (1984). For a broad overview of the structural and volcanic evolution of the Gregory Rift Valley see King (1978). Two special issues of Tectonophysics on the themes “Crustal and upper mantle structure of the Kenya Rift” (1994, vol. 236) and “Structure and dynamic processes in the lithosphere of the Afro-Arabian Rift System” (1997, vol. 278) contain many reviews of the structural and magmatic evolution of the rift system.
The alkaline rocks and carbonatites around Homa Bay on the Nyanza (Kavirondo) Gulf of Lake Victoria in western Kenya are fully and comprehensively described in the book by Le Bas (1977).
Lying just south of the Ethiopian border in the Sabarei area (Key and Watkins, 1988) the Jibisa ring complex expresses itself as the 675 m high Jibisa Mountain.
The Puch Prasir Plateau, which lies essentially south of latitude 3°00’N, is a mountainous area surrounded by high cliffs and constititutes the southerly end of a dominantly rhyolitic group of hills that extend for nearly 100 km into the North Turkana area (No.
This large area extends around the southern reaches of Lake Turkana and includes numerous volcanic fields and centres many of which, but not all, are alkaline. Ochieng’ et al.
The Barrier volcano stands at the southern end of Lake Turkana and is so named because it separates the lake from the Suguta valley, the site of a former lake to the south. It forms an east-west-trending ridge 20 km in length and 15 km wide.
The eastern half of this huge area has not been investigated in detail but, as indicated on the 1:1,000,000 Geological Map of Kenya (1987), much of the area is covered by basaltic rocks.
The Report by Key (1987b) of the Maralal degree sheet area includes the work of Baker (1963) in the northeastern sector and Shackleton (1946b) for the southeast.
The Namarunu volcano abuts the western margin of the rift in the northern part of the Maralal area (No. 085-00-011) and extends northwards into the Loiyangalani area (No. 085-00-07).
Kafkandal volcano is approximately circular in plan and 10 km in diameter but its full extent is concealed by volcanic products from the Nasaken (No. 085-00-017), Kachila (No. 085-00-024) and Ribkwo (No. 085-00-025) volcanoes.
Emuruangogolak is a Quaternary basalt-trachyte volcano located within the rift (Suguta Trough) in the central part of the Maralal area (No. 085-00-011).