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Erecting high-rises in Kundasang, Ranau involve risk
Published on: Sunday, April 18, 2021
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Donkey’s Ear Peak and Tunku Abdul Rahman Peak.
KUDOS to Daily Express and its feature writer Kan Yaw Chong for the three-part article on the geology of Sabah and Mt Kinabalu. 

The detailed exposition by Prof. Felix Tongkul, the well-known geologist, is indeed fascinating. 

The accompanying graphics are very explanatory and lucid. 

I learnt two new terms “Proto South China Sea Oceanic Crust” and ‘Sulu Sea Oceanic Crust”. If indeed Kinabalu is the result of seismic forces created by plate tectonics, it is a new revelation. 

Our understanding has always been that a granite pluton emerged from the deeper layers of the earth and surfaced one million years ago to form Kinabalu. 

This new explanation raises the question whether a fault-line exists underneath the mountain and the Ranau region. 

During the June 2015 earthquake, only two peaks of Kinabalu were severely damaged. 

The falling off of one of the “ears” of the iconic Donkey’s Ears Peak was much highlighted in the press (Picture). 

The other peak to suffer heavy damage (but received no mention) was Tunku Abdul Rahman Peak, from which a gigantic block of granite detached and rolled down the Panar Laban Rockface, leaving a huge gaping hole (Picture). 

None of the other peaks suffered any damage. Interestingly, these two peaks flank the western and eastern sides of Low’s Gully, the mile-deep canyon in the middle of Kinabalu. 

Current understanding is that the Gully is a result of cutting glacial action by the major glacier that flowed northward during the Ice Ages - the ice made this deep gash. 

Is it possible that the Gully is actually a rift valley created by a gigantic earthquake millennia ago? Only detailed geological exploration of the rock debris at its bottom can answer this riddle. 

This is a fertile field for future expeditions that can lead to many research papers on the mountain’s origins.

Apart from the academic issues above there is also an important practical issue. Ranau is a rapidly growing town, as is Kundasang. 

If, indeed, they are sitting on an ancient fault line, town planners need to be cautious about high rise buildings in this area, both commercial and residential, that they incorporate all quake-resistant features.

Thank you once again DE,

Dr. Ravi


 

The two Kinabalu peaks that were damaged in the 2015 earthquake. 

 





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