• Monday, November 18, 2019

Saudi Arabia in Pictures

Discussion in 'Arab Defence Forum' started by Arabian Legend, Dec 3, 2012.

  1. Saif al-Arab

    Saif al-Arab BANNED

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  2. DESERT FIGHTER

    DESERT FIGHTER ELITE MEMBER

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    Dank pics baddu .. :D

    KSAs hilly regions look very similiar to Balochistan.
     
  3. Saif al-Arab

    Saif al-Arab BANNED

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    Most of KSA is actually mountainous, kawli:D:

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    The only true lowland in KSA is the coastal region of the Eastern Province and the southeastern parts of the mighty Rub al Khali (almost totally uninhabited if not totally uninhabited) but even there you can find the highest sand dunes in the world. Of course the coastal Red Sea coast is also lowland but right behind it there are mountains from north to south (almost 2000 km).

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    Trees planted in the desert (Najd).

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    Riyadh - near the King Abdullah Financial District:

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    KSA has a very rich marine life and a long beautiful and largely untouched coastline. For instance the Red Sea is home to the second largest coral reef in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

    [​IMG]Al Wadj Bank, Saudi Arabia (NASA, International Space Station Science, 12/30/07) by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, on Flickr

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    فرسان
    by Jazan Know, on Flickr

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    Tabuk area منطقة تبوك by tabuk تبوك, on Flickr

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    There are almost 2000 islands in KSA as well. The vast, vast majority are uninhabited. Most are found in the Red Sea.

    In recent years several new volcanic islands have emerged in the Red Sea due to volcanic eruptions. More specifically in the waters close to KSA and Yemen. Most recently last year.





    This video is 5 years old.



    It's quite amazing really.

    KAUST wrote a paper on the subject not long ago.

    Plate separation births two volcanic islands | KAUST Discovery

    Another article from another source.

    Birth of two volcanic islands in the southern Red Sea : Nature Communications : Nature Publishing Group

    During his first exploration of the Red Sea the legendary underwater explorer Jacques Yves Cousteau observed about the shorelines of Saudi Arabia and Sudan - "Life abounds in bank after bank of exuberant coral structures, second only to those of the Great Barrier Reef in extent and exceeding it perhaps in splendour. Here there is deep clarity, blazing colour, and active fauna".

    For years cloaked in secrecy, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has exploded on to the tourist track. International Cultural Tourism has been evident for many years with groups coming from Japan, America and Europe. Saudi Arabia is now realising a national heritage and opening sustained dive tourism. Our Saudi Arabia dive trips are from Liveaboards and proving to be a great success. This is as a result of spectacular diving with newly discovered dive sites and an abundance of large pelagic activity both on our Yanbu and Farasan Banks itineraries, with several species of sharks including silkies, oceanics and tigers, as well as giant mantas.

    It has been said that Saudi Arabia is one of diving's last frontiers, and it is a fact that very few westerners have ever been able to dive here. The appeal of diving almost untouched, barely explored reefs is undeniable. With an incredible variety of marine life and some of the most flourishing coral reefs to be found anywhere in the world - it is no wonder that so many famous explorers have dived here.

    The Red Sea is rated as one of the top ten diving destinations in the world. Egypt, Sudan and Jordan offer fantastic diving, but how many of you have dived the Saudi Arabian Red Sea? How many of you know anyone who has? Without question, many if not most of the outer reefs in that region have never been dived. The diversity of marine life and fauna along the reefs really are quite exquisite and offer the diver a high quality and extremely memorable diving experience.

    http://www.diving-world.com/saudi.htm

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacques_Cousteau

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    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
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  4. DESERT FIGHTER

    DESERT FIGHTER ELITE MEMBER

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    mud volcanos?

    In Balochistan

    8041e300115f128ffdaf416ea6ec9914.jpg fd42bceb55e653f4921509c2aa84bd4af47ff6b9.jpg Chandragup-active-mud-volcano-at-Hingol-National-Park-Balochistan.jpg DSC_06611.jpg 0012a.jpg 58db3bd3de667.jpg 3_It_has_more_than_54_million_tons_of_Gold_ntjiu_Pak101(dot)com.jpg
     
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  5. Gomig-21

    Gomig-21 SENIOR MEMBER

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    After posing the question to Saif, I realized they might not necessarily be volcanoes but possibly craters?
     
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  6. DESERT FIGHTER

    DESERT FIGHTER ELITE MEMBER

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    Look like craters too.
     
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  7. Saif al-Arab

    Saif al-Arab BANNED

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    They are volcanoes bro. KSA has a lot of volcanoes (craters too) in particular in Hijaz and Western KSA.

    See this thread below:

    https://defence.pk/pdf/threads/the-...-arabia-near-the-prophets-saws-mosque.498804/

    The story of the famous volcano in Saudi Arabia near the Prophet’s (saws) Mosque
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    The Medina region has the largest shares of these volcanic nests and craters with black rocks. (Supplied)

    Staff writer, Al Arabiya English
    Tuesday, 30 May 2017

    Saudi Arabia stretches over 2,000 dormant volcanoes for thousands of years. They are not dead and have caused throughout their long history 13 main eruptions of lava.

    The Medina region has the largest shares of these volcanic nests and craters with black rocks. The last volcanic eruption was in Hijaz, southeast of Medina in 1256. The eruption and flow took several days and the lava expanded over 23 kilometers. The longest flow of lava was 8.2 km away from the mosque of the Holy Prophet.

    Mount al-Qadar is located in the center of the Khyber tract. It is an extinct volcanic mountain with a height of more than 2,000 meters above sea level. It is a rugged area, on which it is difficult to walk. The crater of Mount al-Qadr is very deep and has large cavities. Those who climb Mount al-Qadr will notice the spread of the lava over more than 50 kilometers.

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    Near the crater of Mount al-Qadr, you can find the crater of Mount al-Abyad volcano. It has a strange color and assorted formations and it is one of the most famous geological landmarks in the region.

    Near the Taif, there is one of the deepest volcanic craters in Saudi Arabia and its depth reaches 240 meters with a diameter of more than 2,500 meters.

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    Saudi Arabia is a main destination for geologists with its large and prominent volcanoes having unique formations and craters. It has more than 2000 volcanic craters, some of which are among the most beautiful volcanic craters in the world.

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    According to the Geology Professor at King Saud University, Dr. Abdulaziz bin Laaboun, the volcanic craters in Saudi Arabia are among the most beautiful craters in the world; they represent important sites for those who are interested in geology, for tourists and researchers as well.

    Last Update: Tuesday, 30 May 2017 KSA 16:49 - GMT 13:49

    https://english.alarabiya.net/en/fe...no-in-Saudi-Arabia-near-the-Prophet-tomb.html

    A few more of the 2000 dormant volcanoes in KSA. Almost all of them are located in Hijaz.

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    Albida Volcano, Kybar, saudi Arabia
    by Abdullah Alturaigy, on Flickr

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    Volcano Madina Saudi Arabia
    by Abdullah Alturaigy, on Flickr

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    A informative article about volcanoes in KSA:

    http://archive.aramcoworld.com/issue/200602/volcanic.arabia.htm

    Huge Geometric Shapes in Middle East May Be Prehistoric

    By Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor | December 1, 2015 10:25am ET

    Thousands of stone structures that form geometric patterns in the Middle East are coming into clearer view, with archaeologists finding two wheel-shaped patterns date back some 8,500 years. That makes these "wheels" older than the famous geoglyphs in Peru called Nazca Lines.

    And some of these giant designs located in Jordan's Azraq Oasis seem to have an astronomical significance, built to align with the sunrise on the winter solstice.

    Those are just some of the findings of new research on these Middle East lines, which were first encountered by pilots during World War I. RAF Flight Lt. Percy Maitland published an account of them in 1927 in the journal Antiquity, reporting that the Bedouin called the structures "works of the old men," a name still sometimes used by modern-day researchers. [See Photos of the 'Nazca Lines' in the Middle East]

    The "works of the old men" include wheels, which often have spokes radiating out from the center, kites (stone structures used for funnelling and killing animals), pendants (lines of stone cairns) and meandering walls, which are mysterious structures that meander across the landscape for up to several hundred feet.

    The works "demonstrate specific geometric patterns and extend from a few tens of meters up to several kilometers, evoking parallels to the well-known system of geometric lines of Nazca, Peru," wrote an archaeological team in a paper published recently in the Journal of Archaeological Science. (Peru's Nazca Lines date to between 200 B.C. and A.D. 500.)

    They "occur throughout the entire Arabia region, from Syria across Jordan and Saudi Arabia to Yemen," wrote the researchers. "The most startling thing about the 'Works' is that they are difficult to identify from the ground. This stands in contrast to their apparent visibility from the air."

    New research on the Middle East lines was published recently in the Journal of Archaeological Science and the journal Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy. Live Science also got an advance copy of an article set to be published in the journal Antiquity.

    Prehistoric date

    Tests indicate that some of the wheels date back around 8,500 years, a prehistoric time when the climate was wetter in parts of the Middle East.

    Using a technique called optically stimulated luminescence (OSL), archaeologists dated two wheels at Wadi Wisad, in the Black Desert of Jordan. One wheel dated back 8,500 years, while the other wheel had a mix of dates that suggest it was built about 8,500 years and was remodeled or repaired around 5,500 years ago. [See Aerial Photos of the Giant Wheels]

    At the time these wheels were built, the climate in the Black Desert was more hospitable, and Wadi Wisad was inhabited. "Charcoal from deciduous oak and tamarisk [a shrub] were recovered from two hearths in one building dated to ca. 6,500 B.C.," wrote researchers in a forthcoming issue of Antiquity.

    Solar alignments?

    Spatial analysis of the wheels showed that one cluster of wheels, located in the Azraq Oasis, has spokes with a southeast-northwest orientation that may align with sunrise during the winter solstice.

    "The majority of the spokes of the wheels in that cluster are oriented for some reason to stretch in a SE-NW direction," researchers wrote in the Journal of Archaeological Science. This points to "where the sun rises during the winter solstice."

    Whether this alignment was intentional is unknown, researchers wrote in the journal article. "As for the rest of the wheels, they do not seem to contain any archaeoastronomical information."

    What were they used for?

    The two dated wheels "are simple in form and not very rigidly made, according to geometric standards," said Gary Rollefson, a professor at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. "They contrast sharply with some other wheels that appear to have been set out with almost as much attention to detail as the Nazca Lines."

    It's possible that different wheels may have served different uses, Rollefson said. In the case of the two dated wheels, "the presence of cairns suggests some association with burials, since that is often the way of treating people once they died." Rollefson is careful to point out that "there are other wheels where cairns are entirely lacking, pointing to a different possible use."

    Rollefson is co-director of the Eastern Badia Archaeological Project. His team is hoping to excavate a few of the cairns, which are located within the wheels, in the next few years.

    Visible from the sky

    Why people in prehistoric times would build wheel-shaped structures that can't be seen well from the ground remains a mystery. No balloon or glider technologies existed at that time. Additionally, researchers say that climbing to a higher elevation to view them was probably not possible, at least not in most cases. [In Photos: Google Earth Reveals Sprawling Geoglyphs in Kazakhstan]

    Though the wheels are often difficult to make out on the ground, they are not invisible. "Granted, one can't see the finished product standing at ground level, but one can still determine a general geometric configuration," Rollefson told Live Science.

    He said that to create the more precisely designed wheels, people might have used a long rope and stake.

    Saudi Arabia wheels

    Wheels located in Saudi Arabia and Yemen look different than those found farther north, a team with the Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East (APAAME) has found.

    They've been investigating wheels, and other "works of the old men," by using free satellite imagery that is available through Google Earth and Bing. They are also using historical aerial images taken of Saudi Arabia and Yemen during the 20th century.

    The circles tend to be small and have only one or two bars instead of spokes, said David Kennedy, of the University of Western Australia, who co-directs the project. Some of the "wheels" are actually shaped like squares, rectangles or triangles, he said.

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    Some of the "wheels" found in Saudi Arabia have a bull's-eye design.
    Credit: Image courtesy Google Earth
    One type of wheel structure actually looks like a bull's-eye, according to an image of the structure that Kennedy sent to Live Science. Three triangles point toward the bull's-eye wheel, and there are small piles of stones that lead from the three triangles to the wheel. Kennedy calls it "a central bull's-eye tomb with, in this case, three triangles each with at least a part of a connecting line of stone heaps running to the center."

    At present, the archaeologists are not able to conduct fieldwork or aerial imaging (using planes or helicopters) in Saudi Arabia or Yemen.


    Desert gates

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    Four "gates" were found on the slope of a volcano in Saudi Arabia. What they are and what they were used for is unknown. We can expect to hear more about them in 2016.
    Credit: Image courtesy of Google Earth​

    Another form of "works of the old men," which Kennedy and his team have found in Saudi Arabia, is of structures that he calls "gates."

    So far, 332 gates have been found in Saudi Arabia (none are known to exist farther north). The gates "consist of two short thick walls or heaps of stones, between which one or more connecting walls stretch," wrote researchers in an article published recently in the journal Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy. The researchers note that, "from above, these features resemble an old-fashioned barred gate laid flat." The longest gate is over 500 meters (1,640 feet), but most are much smaller.


    Scientists don't know how far back the gates date, nor their purpose. "I coined the term 'gate' for no better reason than that I needed a convenient label to describe them and they reminded me of the sort of field gates I saw all around in my rural childhood in Scotland," said Kennedy.

    The researchers found that gates tend not to be located near kites (which were used for hunting). Indeed, some of the gates were built in places, such as barren volcanic slopes, which were unlikely to support large animal herds. Archaeologists found "five [gates] on the outer slopes of the bowl of one of the volcanoes [called Jabal al-Abyad]" in Saudi Arabia, they wrote in the Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy journal article.

    Kennedy said that his team is finishing up its research on the gates and will be publishing another journal article in the future describing the team's findings in greater detail.

    Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

    http://www.livescience.com/52944-huge-geometric-shapes-in-middle-east-revealed.html

    Simply amazing.

    Lecture at University of Oxford.











    http://www.arch.ox.ac.uk/MP1.html

    http://www.shh.mpg.de/178394/petraglia

    Fascinating.

    Thousands of Tombs in Saudi Desert Spotted From Space

    By Rebecca Kessler, LiveScience Contributor
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    Google Earth maps showed 1,977 structures built of basalt stone from the surrounding lava field in Jeddah, including various pendants, or circular mounds similar to collapsed tombs with processions of small stone piles branching out from them (A, B, C and D).
    Credit: Google Earth, Courtesy of David Kennedy/Journal of Archaeological Science

    Little is known about the archaeology of Saudi Arabia, as the government has historically forbid aerial photographs of the landscape and religious sensitivities have made access tricky. But Google Earth is changing that. Satellite images available via the Web-based 3-D map program show that large portions of the country hold a wealth of archaeological remains that predate Islam and may be several thousand years old.

    Researchers recently discovered nearly 2,000 tombs by peering through one high-resolution "window" at a rocky lava field east of the city of Jeddah — all without having to set foot in the Saudi desert.

    Judging by the sheer number of stone ruins identified in Saudi Arabia, as well as in other research in Jordan, there may well be a million such sites scattered throughout the Arabian Peninsula, said David Kennedy, an archaeologist at the University of Western Australia who led the study.

    Eye in the sky

    Kennedy has spent the past 35 years surveying Jordanian archaeological sites, mainly from aircraft — a technique that archaeologists have relied on for decades to identify and map sites not readily visible from the ground. He found plenty of sites near the Saudi border, but wondered what was on the other side. The Saudi government had commissioneda broad archaeological survey in the 1970s and 1980s that revealed about 1,800 tombs and other sites throughout the country, but the government all but prohibited the use of aerial photography even to its own surveyors.

    Juris Zarins, an archaeologist who worked in Saudi Arabia for 15 years and led parts of the national survey, suggests religious sensitivities play a role in the government’s limitations on archaeology . "They don’t want people fooling around with prehistory because it contradicts the Koran — any more than fundamentalist Christians want anyone to say anything is older than six thousand years," Zarins told LiveScience.

    Since satellite imagery has become widely available in the last decade, and particularly since Google Earth launched in 2005, archaeologists have used it to scan for ruins over large landscapes around the globe. About two years ago, a few sharp windows on Saudi Arabia opened up, and Kennedy got his first peek at the ground.

    "I was able to actually see across the border, courtesy of Google," he said, and what he saw was "marvelous" — thousands of sites in just the handful of available windows.

    Window on the desert

    Kennedy and a Saudi collaborator started with a preliminary study of a small area 250 miles (400 kilometers) north of the Jeddah site. There they spotted hundreds of large stone structures called kites, which scientists think were used for trapping and corralling animals.

    For the present study, published online Jan. 28 in the Journal of Archaeological Science, Kennedy and a colleague, M.C. Bishop, took a more methodical look at a 480-square-mile window near Jeddah. They located 1,977 structures built of basalt stone from the surrounding lava field. The most numerous are cairns — circular mounds similar to collapsed tombs found in Jordan and Yemen — and "pendants," which are cairns from which processions of small stone piles march as far as 3 miles off into the desert.

    Some of the funeral monuments stand alone, others were built on top of one another; some are aligned, others are scattered willy-nilly across the landscape. Most of them were probably looted long ago, Kennedy said. A few less distinctively shaped ruins could be the remains of seasonal living quarters.

    Kennedy sent the coordinates of a couple of sites to a friend living near Jeddah, who forayed into the desert with a GPS to photograph them. Where the satellite images clearly show a cairn and its pendant, photographs show a "rather uninspiring sea of boulders" that would be "a nightmare" to attempt to locate or map from the ground, Kennedy said.

    So who were the people who built all these structures? Most likely pastoral nomads who moved between camps herding goats, sheep, donkeys, and later horses and camels, said Zarins. He said the structures probably date from between 4000 and 1000 B.C., a time when the region's climate was generally wetter and more hospitable than it is today.

    Feet on the ground

    While acknowledging that the new information offers new insights, it's not enough to simply peer down from space, said Zarins, who is now retired from Missouri State University and living in Oman, where he uses Google Earth in his own excavations.

    "It helps you understand where you might want to dig, where you might want to look, where you might want to see. But you can't do anything with it unless you actually have people on the ground," Zarins said. "You have to have somebody go out there and dig."

    And in that sense, he said, Kennedy and Bishop's paper failed to advance what he and others have known about for decades. The survey in the 1970s and 1980s showed that there are numerous tombs and other ruins throughout Saudi Arabia, but the lack of aerial photography made identifying or mapping all of them impossible.

    "Yes, I can see there are tombs of various kinds in the lava fields of western Saudi Arabia. We've known about these for years and years and years," Zarins said. He added that the new imagery couldn't answer a number of crucial questions. "When was it? What period? How did they operate? Where did they live? What's the function? None of that can be done on the basis of just satellite imaging," he said.

    Kennedy said he agreed — up to a point. "It's just so much more informative to see things from above. It's not going to give you the whole answer, it's just a starting point. But it's the ideal starting point," he said.

    And with Google Earth's image collection constantly expanding, armchair archaeologists will have plenty of work for years to come, Kennedy said."The quality is constantly being enhanced for Saudi Arabia and the size of the windows is constantly increasing. So the potential is immense."

    http://www.livescience.com/12864-google-earth-saudi-archaeology-tombs.html

    Arabian archeology images revealed from the air

    Ancient rock camps, cairns, tombs, traps and more, appear in the hundreds of thousands in aerial views of the Arabian desert.

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    The structures are very hard to see from the ground, but apparent when seen flying over the desert.

    Here's a sampling of archeological views of the structures increasingly observed from "harrat" volcanic rock regions and a Q&A with study leader David Kennedy of the University of Western Australia in Perth:

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    First, here's a map of the harrat regions of the Arabian desert, to start off the Q& A.

    Q: Who were the 'Old Men' of the Arabian Desert? Did the same culture make all these structures?

    A: Several western travellers in 'Arabia' in the 19th century onwards asked beduin about some of the stone-built structures they could see and were told they were the 'work of the old men/ old people'. By that the beduin meant they were pre-Islamic – not part (they thought) of an Islamic tradition. The term was given a high profile when Flt Lt Maitland of the RAF published an article in 1927 called 'The Works of the Old Men' in Arabia, about the stone structures he saw as he flew over the Jordanian Panhandle.

    Dating the structures is problematic although prehistorians date various structures to periods ranging from the 7th millennium BC down to the Early Roman period (1st c. BC to 3rd c. AD).
    There is no reason to think these structures are all part of a single long cultural episode. Indeed, as an Aerial Archaeologist I can see that a site type B often overlies site type A but never the other way round. And, of course, some burial cairns are frequently associated with Safaitic graffito which are dated to the Early Roman period.

    Q. What was the function of the keyhole tombs? Were they family groupings of burials?

    A: The type is very unusual. A few examples had been seen in Saudi Arabia half a century ago at least but now a view from space of large areas has revealed they are extremely common in west central Arabia around Khaybar and Al-Hiyat. They occur most commonly alongside tracks leading to settlements and are interspersed with what seem to be simple burial Cairns and the cairn with tail we call Pendants. So my guess is they are funerary or commemorative. The shape is only paralleled – to my knowledge, in the keyhole tombs of Korea and Japan. In crude terms they mimic the form of the numerous animal traps called Kites …. but a form found hundreds of miles to the north in Jordan and Syria rather than the variant seen in the region of the Keyholes.

    Most Keyholes are found as single structures though often with others nearby; a few overlap one another to create an amalgam.

    Q. The more recent paper suggests a very large number of these structures exist. What conservation efforts are needed for them at this point?

    A: The huge numbers and the great extent of the region over which these Works are found – from northern Syria to Yemen, is their greatest source of vulnerability: it will seem acceptable to allow development to sweep away or damage examples simply because there are still many more. We can already see numerous examples of Kites – to take the physically largest category, which have been damaged recently including in quite remote desert areas and comparison of aerial photos of the 1950s with the same region today has revealed that dozens of Kites in one region alone have been removed entirely by agriculture during the intervening half century.

    Conservation will require – ultimately, an international effort by Syria, Jordan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman. In the immediate future individual countries need to recognize the existence and significance of these Works … and that they are steadily disappearing. That in turn requires the definition of What and Where and the only feasible – i.e. cost-effective, way is to use aerial and satellite imagery as the APAAME project is doing in Jordan and testing elsewhere when only satellite imagery is available. Identifying, photographing to create a permanent record and mapping is the underpinning for research by experts. This is unlikely to halt the rapid growth and development in these countries but it will help to slow a process. It is urgent that this be pursued.

    Q: From an archaeologist's viewpoint, what are the key questions raised by the structures? What should be done in terms of investigation?

    A: There is no complete agreement on two key questions: When were they built? and What for? Dating the structures is very difficult and few prehistorians have ever worked in these areas. The interpretation of aerial imagery to determine associations and relationships of structures over a wide area can point to at least relative chronologies – e.g. Wheels overlie Kites but never vice versa therefore Wheels are probably younger than Kites.

    Some Cairns are plainly burial sites. Some Kites seem clearly to be intended to trap animals but others are more puzzling – very complex, located in puzzling places and existing in huge numbers – over-kill. Wheels have been viewed as domestic ('houses') but explaining their form is problematic. Pendants do seem to be funerary – a burial Cairn and small commemorative cairns creating a tail. Gates are not explained – though now over 100 have been identified.

    And a natural question is: Why there? In some of the more inhospitable parts of Inner Arabia? Was the climate (and environment) more favourable in the distant past?

    Aerial imagery can take research so far but is NOT an end – merely a means to an end. What is needed is more intensive and extensive field research by experts who may be in a better position if armed with extensive detailed mapping and preliminary interpretation.

    Q: Some of the more puzzling features you describe as perhaps monumental art. Are there other explanations for them? Salvaged trap walls, pens or the like?


    A: I am thinking of some Kites whose tails are so complex that it is hard to see how they could have functioned as traps. And some Walls run in a meandering fashion across the landscape for kilometres in some cases. Investigated on the ground their precise locations may reveal a mundane practical explanation – which I would prefer. But there are others that seem to be simply a tangle of intersecting walls and in one case walls forming a saw-tooth pattern.

    Q:. How surprising is it that Google Earth has opened this window on antiquity? Is it a function of the desert throwing these structures into relief (compared to say Maya ruins under a tree canopy)?

    A: Not really surprising as the quality of the highest-resolution imagery is superb and can rival traditional vertical photography. And it is in colour and part of an easily explored seamless-photography over immense areas. Google Earth offers the best tool at the moment in terms of extent and quality but Bing Maps now has a growing archive of superb imagery although it is far less user-friendly than Google Earth.

    The role of Aerial Archaeology in Europe in revealing tens of thousands of hitherto unknown archaeological sites transformed our understanding of the past. Most were sites only visible from the air, revealed as crop or vegetation marks. The Works are all structures on the surface in regions with little vegetation to obscure them. They can be seen at ground level but are often unintelligible … until you get up high.

    Q: What regions would you most like a Google Earth view of?

    A: More of what we already have. The number of high-resolution 'windows' onto the landscape of Saudi Arabia is still limited; most imagery is too poor for our purposes. We need the high-resolution coverage to be considerably extended and ideally to be as good as the best quality now available on Bing.

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    @DESERT FIGHTER

    Great photos. Look very much like the volcanic areas of KSA (Hijaz but not only). Nice.
     
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  8. Saif al-Arab

    Saif al-Arab BANNED

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    Written and photographed by Peter Harrigan

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    Above: The harrah near Madinah has been active for more than two million years, explains Mohammed-Rashad Moufti, a consultant to the Saudi Geological Survey (SGS). Below: This small dam was broken by an earthquake along one of the several faults that run through the harraat.
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    “During my stay, I remember to have once made the observation to my cicerone, in going with him to Jebel Ohod, that the country appeared as if all burnt by fire; but I received an unmeaning reply; no hint or observation afterwards in the town which could lead me to suppose that I was near so interesting a phenomenon of nature.” It was not until his arrival in Cairo that Burckhardt discovered a written account referring to the eruption.

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    With the exception of Charles Doughty’s description (see “‘A Titanic Desolation’” below), European references to volcanic Arabia are few and far between. Even since the founding of Saudi Arabia in 1932, the focus on oil in the sedimentary Eastern Province and the stereotype of sand-and-gravel deserts have left largely neglected the volcanic aspects of the Arabian Shield, the geological name for much of the western Arabian Peninsula. It was not until recent years that the scientific and economic significance of this geology began to be recognized and understood.

    Western Saudi Arabia is in fact covered not only with sand, but also with vast fields of lava. In Arabic, these lava fields are known as harraat. (The singular is harrah; before a name, it is harrat.) Some dozen named harraat in Saudi Arabia together form one of Earth’s largest alkali basalt regions, covering some 180,000 square kilometers (nearly 70,000 sq mi), an area greater than the state of Missouri.

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    After the evening prayer, according to one account quoted by Johann Ludwig Burck hardt, “a fire burst out in the direction of al-Hijaz; it resembled a vast city with a turreted and battlemented fort, in which men appeared drawing the flame about, as it were, whilst it roared, burned and melted like a sea everything that came in its way. Presently a red and bluish stream, bursting from it, ran close to al-Madinah, and at the same time the city was fanned by a cooling zephyr from the same direction.”

    The eruption lasted for 52 days. At its fiery zenith those further afield also witnessed strange sights, with reports of the light of the eruption visible in Makkah and Tayma’, six days’ journey from Madinah. Historians relate that the depth of the lava flow was a long spear’s length, around three meters (10'), and that it flowed like a red-blue boiling river, carrying in its way gravels, stones and trees, with thundering noises. Al-Qastalani asserts that the fire was so fierce that no one could approach within two arrow flights, and that at night “the brilliant light of the volcano made the face of the country as bright as day; and the interior of the harim (the sacred area of the city) was as if the sun shone upon it.” The governor and citizens prayed for the safety of the city, and as the lava inexorably approached, many, including women and children, wept and prayed around the Prophet’s tomb. Then, the lava current turned north, and the city was spared.



    Mohammed-Rashad Moufti holds Saudi Arabia’s first—and so far only—doctoral degree in volcanology. He has devoted 20 years to studying and promoting awareness of the lava field near Madinah, which is known as Harrat Rahat.

    “The eruption that threatened the Holy City happened very recently in geological time, and it overlaid previous lava flows. It’s known as the historic lava flow because we have recorded accounts. Volcanism first occurred on this part of the harrah two million years ago and has remained active,” explains Moufti to a group of German and Saudi visitors who stand on the fissure site. They have come as guests of the Saudi Geological Survey (SGS), which has mapped the volcanic features and pioneered geo-tours to the volcanic fields.

    Moufti explains that Harrat Rahat is twice the area of Lebanon. Its pond of 2000 cubic kilometers (480 cu mi) of basalt lava stretches 310 kilometers (190 mi) from the southern outskirts of Madinah to the suburbs of Jiddah, where there are other flows that date back 10 million years. The main body of the flow measures 75 kilometers (46 mi) east to west, and lava tongues run a further 75 kilometers westward where molten basalt flowed along wadis, or valleys, broke through the 1500-meter-high (nearly 5000') mountains of the Red Sea escarpment and fanned out in dendritic tentacles across the Peninsula’s coastal plain.

    Satellite and aerial photographs reveal the extent of this single harrah and the variety of volcanic features strewn across its desolate, often trackless landscape of variegated flows. Satellite images from nearly 500 kilometers’ (300 mi) altitude reveal the different colors of magma extruded in past epochs: Jet-black indicates the most recent flows, while rust-red indicates surface exposure and erosion over millions of years. White areas—with one remarkable exception—reveal by-product features known as qi‘aan (singular: qa‘)—flat expanses of silt and salt and other residue laid down after lava flows blocked watercourses to form seasonal lakes. Other sand and silt areas, deposited in craters, appear as white dots and speckles from a satellite or, from lower altitudes, as more artful shapes set within often perfectly circular crater rims. A dark crater floor lacking silt or sand may be the result of more recent, even historic, volcanic activity.

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    A Neolithic relic that hunters may have used to guide prey across the harrah and into a corral.

    Spread across the harraat is a host of textbook geological features: scoria (cinder), spatter and tuff cones; smooth and ropy pahoehoe, sharp and broken a’a and pyroclastic flows; shield volcanoes; fumaroles; trachyte and comendite domes; eroded feeder necks; craters; fissures; vesiculated lapilli and other forms of basalt bombs; whaleback lava flows; maar craters and one stratovolcano. Some, like the maar craters—circular landforms created by explosive ash eruptions—are huge: A massive steam explosion, generated by the meeting of molten basaltic magma with subterranean water, created the spectacular maar crater of al-Wahbah on the western margins of Harrat Kashib. Some of the most distinctive volcanic scenery and geology in all of Arabia is on Harrat Khaybar, where the circular white cones of Jabal Bayda’ and Jabal Abyad look from the air like snow-capped mountains. (Both names mean “white,” one in the feminine form, the other in the masculine.)

    Thamer al-Khiary is a former geological engineer with the SGS who now, with the support of the agency, leads private tours into the volcanic areas. “It’s a thrill to take visitors over an apparently flat landscape and see their faces when they climb a gentle slope that breaks unexpectedly into a vast explosion crater beneath, or lead families up a scoria cone to discover at the summit a perfect rim and crater below. Our greatest thrill is to spend the night in a crater and see the inner walls sparkle with minerals in the moonlight,” says al-Khiary. At 31, wearing a polo shirt with desert-motif logo, trekking shoes and slacks and wraparound sunglasses, he looks every bit the adventure-tour guide. “What’s remarkable is that so many people have no idea that these features exist, even though they live nearby and drive past some of them on the highway.”

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    MAPPING SPECIALISTS

    Moufti recalls hiking into remote areas of Harrat Rahat 20 years ago with his visiting professor. “Like other geologists, he was astonished at the complexity and extent of volcanic Arabia. I remember climbing a volcanic cone, my professor wearing a battered hat and smoking a pipe. When we reached the rim and looked down to the flat crater floor, there was a Bedouin girl grazing livestock there. I don’t know who was the most surprised!”

    Such idyllic scenes belie a charged, daunting and even threatened environment, for Madinah’s was not the only eruption in historic times in Arabia. In the 1970’s, the search for non-petroleum mineral resources became an impetus for surveys of harraat. The current president of the SGS, Mohammed Assad Tawfiq, was then chief geologist of the Directorate General of Mineral Resources (DGMR). Tawfiq remembered stories of the harraat from his school days in Madinah, and he deployed his team to the lava fields as part of a mapping initiative that involved hundreds of international geologists and a fleet of helicopters and other aircraft.

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    Top: A scoria (cinder) cone in the Hayil region rises from the desert floor. Bottom: Al-Wahbah crater, nearly two kilmoeters (1.2 mi) wide, is a maar crater, formed not by volcanic eruption but by the collision of rising volcanic material with an underground body of water, resulting in a colossal release of steam—an event geologists call a phreatic explosion.

    His studies of the Madinah eruption revealed evidence of magma mixing with simultaneous extrusions of three types of basaltic lava, which demonstrated the complexity of the harrah’s subterranean “plumbing” systems. The findings, published in 1987, threw intriguing light on the relationship of tectonic forces to the harraat, for the control mechanisms at work, it turned out, are not—as most people assumed —directly related to the continental rift valleys of the Red Sea.

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    Above: Maher Idris, assistant president of the SGS, holds loose volcanic cinders. Along with monitoring of "geohazards"—earthquakes are riskier than volcanos, he points out—the job of the SHS is to "effectively balance exploitation with the need for geo-conservation." Below: A crater inside a large scoria cone.
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    The most recent eruptions on the Arabian Peninsula occurred in 1937, on a harrah near the town of Dhamar, in the north of Yemen. Before that, in 1846 an eruption took place on the volcanic Red Sea island of Saddle in the Zubair Islands, 90 kilometers (55 mi) northwest of the Yemeni port of Hodaida. Casting farther back—into the Neolithic period on the Arabian Peninsula—there is evidence of eruptions and lava flows that date to roughly 4500 BC. On Harrat Khaybar, satellite imagery has revealed at least seven post-Neolithic eruption sites and eight historic eruptions, the most spectacular from Jabal Qidr. That daunting black basaltic cone rises 322 meters (more than 1000') above a 1700-meter-high (5525') central platform; its sides sweep symmetrically up to 30-degree slopes that top out at a red-oxidized crater 400 meters (1300') in diameter. A field of ash roughly a meter (39") thick fans out more than 20 kilometers (12 mi) eastward from the crater, revealing that westerly winds predominated during the eruption. (Vague historic reports point to the likelihood that Jabal Qidr erupted as recently as about 1800, but such is the remoteness of the region, the paucity of records and the uncertainty regarding previously used local names that there is no definitive account.)

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    In the same area, a historic pahoehoe lava flow partially buries kite-shaped Neolithic stone fences that were probably constructed as animal traps. There is also abundant archeological evidence of Neolithic communities over the harraat of Rahat and Khaybar, where thousands of tumuli and stone fences, keyhole-shaped, kite-shaped and circular, cover extensive areas. By counting the number of vents and eruptions that have occurred on northern Harrat Rahat, volcanologists estimate that, during the past 4500 years, there have been 13 major eruptions—one every 346 years, on average.

    Farther still into the past, on Harrat al-Birk, south of Jiddah on the Tihama plain near the Red Sea, lava covers gravel terraces in which archeologists have found Acheulian stone tools that date the eruption back some half-million years to Lower Paleolithic times. Much older than this, the earliest harraat of all date as early as 13 million years ago, isotopic dating suggests.

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    When it comes to English descriptions of the volcanic features of the Arabian Peninsula, none are more evocative than those of Charles Montague Doughty, whose finely observed account of his 22-month journey through central and northwestern Arabia, Travels in Arabia Deserta, was first published in 1888. Setting out in November 1876, Doughty skirted and crisscrossed the harraat of Kura, al-‘Uwayrid, Khaybar, Ithnayn and Rahat, and in doing so became one of the few Europeans to have ventured onto them.“In the train of the Harras we see a spectacle of the old volcanic violence that tormented this border of the Arabian peninsula,” wrote Doughty. “I have followed these Harras almost to Makkah; that is through nearly seven degrees of latitude.” Doughty came well-equipped, for he had studied geology at Cambridge, and he was fascinated with the emerging earth sciences of the day. In 1872 he had stood before the eruption of Vesuvius at perilously close quarters. Aptly, he places this description of the Italian eruption in the midst of his account of traversing the cinder-cone and lava wilderness of Harrat al-‘Uwayrid.

    It was in Harrat al-‘Uwayrid that Doughty spent the summer of 1877 living with the Moahib Bedouin, and his account of his sojourn with them on the elemental lava fields in “high tempered air” is among the most memorable passages in the book: “This Titanic desolation, seeming in our eyes as if it could not bear life, is good Beduin ground and heritage of the bold Moahib Abu Shamah,” he wrote. “In this difficult volcanic country, their small cattle can be seldom robbed; and milk of the flocks is in less scarcity among them, which is the health and wealth of the poor nomads.”

    Travel across the harraat, “more often a vast bed and banks of rusty and basaltic bluish blocks,” was a formidable task: “Because of this cumber of stones and sharp cutting lavas, the Harra country is hard to pass, out of the paths, for any other than Harra-bred camels. The heavy poised stones sliding and toppling to the tread, the herdsmen’s feet are oftentimes sorely bruised; of which, and because the stones are as glowing coals in the summer sun, the Beduin hinds in the Harra commonly sit all day upon the croups of their browsing camels.”

    In addition to mapping and describing topographic and geological formations, Doughty observed Bedouin life and natural features and their relationship with the volcanic landscape. He described sulphurous warm springs issuing from basalt near Khaybar and herds of gazelle “robust and nearly of the colour of basalt,” unlike the lighter-colored varieties of the desert plains.

    >“We removed again, and when we encamped, I looked round from a rising ground, and numbered forty crater hills within our horizon; I went out to visit the nighest of them. To go a mile’s way is weariness, over the sharp lava field and beds of wild vulcanic blocks and stones. I passed in haste, before any friendly person could recall me; so I came to a cone and crater of the smallest here seen, 300 feet in height, of erupted matter, pumice and light rusty cinders, with many sharp ledges of lava. The hill-side was guttered down by the few yearly showers in long ages. I climbed and entered the crater. Within were sharp walls of slaggy lava, the further part broken down—that was before the bore of out-flowing lavas—and encrusted by the fiery blast of the eruption. Upon the flanks of that hill, I found a block of red granite, cast up from the head of some Plutonic vein, in the deep of the mountain.”

    Travels in Arabia Deserta, however, failed to impress England’s scientific establishment. The chairman of the Royal Geographical Society, Sir Henry Rawlinson, dismissed Doughty as competent with neither pen nor hammer. But The Times of London (April 6, 1888) was more generous: “Mr. Doughty’s contribution to the geology of Arabia and its wonderful volcanic remains is in itself of great value.” Today, his 600,000-word tome is a classic. The National Geographical Society lists it as one of the 100 great adventure books of all time, and scholarly journals still cite his observations.
    CHARLES M. DOUGHTY TRAVELS IN ARABIA DESERTA (BONI & LIVERIGHT, 1921)

    Given the Peninsula’s violent geological history, Maher Idris, assistant president of the Saudi Geological Survey, is responsible for identifying “geohazards.” Earthquakes, not volcanoes, are the most significant geohazard in Saudi Arabia, Idris explains. Until recently, seismic monitoring was carried out by several governmental bodies, but in 2004 all monitoring was consolidated under the SGS.

    “There is a long history in Arabia of volcanoes and earthquakes, but no real comprehensive record of activity, so we have really just started,” says Idris. Although most seismic monitoring stations are located on the Arabian Shield, the country will soon be operating nearly 150 stations and pooling data and expertise with Yemen and Egypt.

    Idris explains that, apart from submarine activity below the Red Sea, there are also active rifting regions in the northwest of the Peninsula, around the city of Tabuk and the Gulf of Aqaba, and in the southwest near the border with Yemen. (The Aqaba earthquake of 1995, which caused widespread destruction, measured 7.3 on the Richter scale).

    “The Madinah area has a volcanic history, with hundreds of related shallow shocks occurring daily, ranging from magnitude one to three, and occasionally four, on the Richter scale,” he says. “We have established a network of seismic monitoring stations around the city,” and the SGS runs educational programs for communities and trains civil-defense teams in preparedness for both earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

    Opportunities interest Idris as much as hazards, and while talking of the harraat regions he’s also keen on geo-conservation, scientific investigations and the economic development of natural-resource prospects. “This is a world-class geological stage for Saudi and foreign visitors and scientists, and we want them to come and see these treasures,” he says, adding that identification of geo-sites parallels an international geo-parks program, sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, in which the SGS participates.

    “We’ve already identified seven sites in the Madinah area,” says Idris. “The local people are often surprised and amazed to realize the complexity and nature of the volcanic features they live so near. We have over 400 vents and craters in the Madinah area and more than 2000 scoria cones on our harraat.”

    Scoria cones, made of porous, cinder-like lava, now attract not only visitors and scientists, but also investors eying the abundant, easily extractable lightweight aggregate. It turns out that the cones’ pyroclastic material, aside from being easily accessible on the surface, has excellent thermal and acoustic insulating properties, making it well-suited for the manufacture of lightweight blocks for construction of high-rise and—ironically—earthquake-proof buildings. Volcanic materials also provide ingredients for high-quality basaltic “wool,” lightweight cement and bricks. The SGS estimates the commercial value of the aggregate on just one scoria cone might exceed $250 million over 30 years.

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    The ash crater of Jabal Bayda' ("White Mountain") contrasts so starkly with the surrounding landscape that from a distance it has been mistaken for a snow-capped peak. It has a smaller but taller neighbor, Jabal Abyad (not shown), that is also bright white.
    SAUDI GEOLOGICAL SURVERY
    The cinders have consumer uses as well: Glowing a pleasant red at 1000 degrees centigrade, volcanic cinders are ideal for lining gas barbecues. As firewood becomes more scarce in the region, kebab restaurants and grills increasingly turn to volcanic stone placed over gas fires. (Curiously, because most people are unaware of the almost unlimited local availability of this material, the stone most commonly used in Saudi Arabian grills is imported from Iceland—giving rise to a local saw equivalent to “carrying coals to Newcastle.”) Medium-sized granules of lava, with good porosity and water-retaining properties, also provide useful horticultural material ideal for arid regions. The SGS office and laboratory complex in Jiddah has healthy trees bedded in cinders that retain water. Yet this knowledge, too, is new: Most Saudi garden suppliers still import the material from Italy. Idris notes also that while the SGS coordinates exploration for mining, it also monitors undesirable environmental side effects. Open excavation of one scoria cone facing the highway linking Makkah and Madinah has already left an unsightly scar; elsewhere, illegal mining and quarrying are creating other eyesores. “Our challenge is to effectively balance exploitation with the need for geo-conservation,” says Idris.

    Exploitation of resources on the harraat stems from the surveys of the 1970’s. With technical assistance from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the French Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières, the early focus was on the country’s high-value mineral prospects—particularly gold, silver, zinc and lead.

    John Roobol is a volcanologist and an advisor to the SGS who has worked in Saudi Arabia since those days, and he has helped survey and map many harraat regions. “This initial phase of extensive geological mapping brought together one of the largest-ever assemblies of geologists in one territory, involving specialists from France, Japan, Germany, Great Britain, Austria, Canada and the United States,” he says. “This was one of the last great challenges left: a pristine chunk of planet Earth with superb exposure, unknown and unmapped. It was a real opportunity and privilege to be part of the effort: This was total geology.”

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    Top left: Mapping the harraat was "one of the last great challenges left on earth," says volcanologist and SGS advisor John Roobol. "This was total geology." Here, he shows a basalt "bomb" that was ejected during an eruption. Bottom left: This and other lava-tube openings may have counterparts on Mars that could shelter future explorers and give insight into Martian geology. Right: Fissures make walking on harraat difficult and hazardous.
    SAUDI GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

    The harraat mapping project, under Mohammed Tawfiq of the DGMR, lasted from 1983 to 1991, and for it Roobol and US volcanologist Victor Camp flew hundreds of helicopter hours, surveying from the air and landing on otherwise inaccessible lava fields to take samples. They also made photogeologic interpretations of aerial photographs and satellite imagery. The result was a series of detailed (1:250,000) geological maps and explanatory notes, as well as papers in the international scientific literature covering three of the largest Cenozoic lava fields: Harrat Rahat, Harrat Kashib and the coalesced harraat of Khaybar, Ithnayn and Kura.

    “The mapping of the harraat was a surprising success,” recalls Roobol. “Until then they were largely places where no one wanted to go, and at the international level people simply did not know there were such extensive lava fields here. We attended a conference in New Zealand and scientists were surprised. They asked what these poorly known lava fields were doing there, as they were not expected according to new plate-tectonic theories.”
     
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  9. Saif al-Arab

    Saif al-Arab BANNED

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    Jabal Abyad, 2093 meter tall volcano:

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    Lava flows around Shuwaymis
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    Ancient volcanic field reawakens in Saudi Arabia

    In 2009, more than 30,000 earthquakes struck an ancient lava field, opening up a five-mile long crevice. Sensors shoow that magma has risen to roughly a mile below the surface of the Earth, and eruptions remain possible.

    By Charles Q. Choi, Our AmazingPlanet Contributor SEPTEMBER 26, 2010

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    AFP/Newscom

    A swarm of thousands of earthquakes that struck the corner of Saudi Arabia nearest to Egypt in 2009 helped reveal that the area is unexpectedly volcanically active, scientists now report.

    The seismic readings that researchers managed to collect from these quakes could help predict when volcanoes might erupt in the future, investigators added.

    Scientists had largely thought northwest Saudi Arabia was quiet, geologically speaking. Few earthquakes and few volcanic eruptions have been recorded there in the past millennium.

    However, between April and June 2009, more than 30,000 earthquakes struck an ancient lava field there named Harrat Lunayyir, with 19 earthquakes of magnitude 4 or greater striking at the swarm's peak on May 19, including a magnitude 5.4 quake that fractured walls in the town of Al Ays. Sensors even suggested that a volcanic eruption was possible. Alarmed, the Saudi Arabian government then evacuated 40,000 people from the region.

    Part of Red Sea Parting

    The lava field of Harrat Lunayyir is part of a "lava province" roughly 70,000 square miles (180,000 square kilometers) in size that began forming 30 million years ago when Arabia split from Africa, rifting that helped create the Red Sea. Harrat Lunayyir was previously considered inactive because of its location on the margins of the continental rift, nearly 120 miles (200 kilometers) away from the active center of spreading beneath the Red Sea.

    Still, "the Red Sea rift is a very active place to start with, with a chain of volcanoes down the middle of it that we're rarely aware of because they are underwater," said researcher John Pallister, a volcanologist and chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's volcano disaster assistance program. "When continents are being pulled apart as you have there, you'll often see intrusions of magma on the shoulders of the rift."

    The researchers discovered a roughly 2-mile-long (3-km-long) rupture had opened up in the area and widened to 5 miles (8 km) long during the most powerful quake. Satellite radar images suggested the most likely cause of this fault was magma intruding upward over a 6-mile-long (10-km-long) stretch.

    Based on these findings, on June 19, 2009, the researchers forecast a moderate chance of a volcanic eruption and a low probability of magnitude 5 or greater earthquakes in the two months following. A decline of seismic activity by August 2009 led the scientists to conclude the crisis had ended, allowing evacuees to return to their homes and daily lives.

    Magma rises

    Still, now that magma has risen to shallow levels roughly a mile (2 kilometers) below the surface of the Earth, eruptions remain possible, and the authorities have to remain vigilant, the researchers said.

    "It is more likely that we'll get additional intrusions of magma and potentially even an eruption in this area — the pathway is prepared," Pallister told Our Amazing Planet.

    The highly detailed readings the Saudi Geological Survey collected from these quakes might be able to help scientists forecast volcanic eruptions in the future, Pallister added.

    Volcanic quakes often generate a mix of high- and low-frequency seismic waves that could yield clues as to when an eruption might occur. These signals are often dulled by the nature of the earth they pass through, but when it came to the Arabian quakes, they were detected through the crystalline rocks of the area quite clearly. The low-frequency seismic waves detected during the quakes seemed to show magma flowing under the earth, while the high-frequency waves indicated fracturing of crystalline rocks as magma crept toward the surface.

    "Understanding what these signals mean could prove instrumental to forecasting what can be deadly events worldwide," Pallister said.

    The scientists detailed their findings online Sept. 26 in the journal Nature Geoscience.

    http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2010/0926/Ancient-volcanic-field-reawakens-in-Saudi-Arabia

    The volcanic miracle of Arabia
    There is a place in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which is like no other in the world. Whereas it is not well-known Saudi Arabia has volcanoes, even plenty of volcanoes including active ones. Volcanic activity is related to hot spot activity on the Arabian Plate which was uplifted on the eastern side of the Red Sea rift.
    The basaltic lava fields in the western part of the country are called harrat. They cover about 180 000 square km and extend from Turkey to Yemen in the south.

    One of the largest volcanic fields is known as Harrat Khaybar, named after the city which lays on its western side. Its ancient and recent lava flows spread between the provinces of Madinah and Ha’il, on the northwest of the city of Madinah, and cover more than 14 000 square kilometers. It contains a 100-kilometer-long north-south oriented line of volcanic vents including scoria cones, lava domes, maars, basalt lava flows, and the only stratovolcano (built up by many layers (strata) of hardened lava) in the Harrat of western Arabia, the Jebel Qidr.

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    Center of the Harrat Khaybar (Google earth image)

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    Volcanoes at the center of the Harrat Khaybar (photo: Florent Egal)


    Recent lava flow of Jebel Qidr (photo: Florent Egal)

    The Harrat Khaybar is still active as testified at least eight eruptions that took place during Islamic era (less than 1500 years old). These include the prominent 55-kilometer-long Habir lava flow and flows from Jabal Qidr which present lava flows that have till today a fluid aspect. However, only one eruption is recorded in historic memory from early Islamic times during the 7th century CE (1st century H).

    But the jewel of the Harrat Khaybar is to be found in its center where lay a very rare kind of volcanoes made of silica-rich called comendite which give them a whitish color. The two largest are the Jebel Abiadh and the Jebel Bayda whose grandiose majesty revealed by satellite images is even more stunning once on site.

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    Jebel Abiadh (photo: Florent Egal)

    Jebel Abiadh (literally “white mount”) is the highest crater of the harra with 2093 meters of altitude and the Jebel Bayda (in Arabic the feminine of “white mount”) is the largest with 1,5 kilometers of diameter.

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    Mixes of colors in the center of the Harrat Khaybar (photo: Elizabeth Henrich)

    As shown on the satellite images the center of the Harrat Khaybar is not only about the clear colors of the white volcanoes as other volcanic formations brought with many shades of other types of lava, ranging from creamy ocher of Jebel Bayda, to shades of red and brown of Jebel Al-'Aqir, until the deep dark lava flows of Jebel Qidr. The subsequent mixing lava flows created fantastic patterns of shades on the ground in between the craters.

    The contrast is the most striking where the whitish creamy lava of the Jebel Bayda meets the deep dark one of the Jebel Qidr. A track leads to the edge of both lava flows where it is possible to stand on this volcanic border having one foot on each type of lava.


    Sharp contrast of colors between the white lava of Jebel Bayda and the dark one of Jebel Qidr (photo: Florent Egal)

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    Jebel Qidr (photo: Elizabeth Henrich)

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    1,5 km wide crater of Jebel Bayda (photo: Florent Egal)

    The creativity of nature is not limited to a wide range of colors but also marvelously attested by the incredible variety of volcanoes shapes that can be found in the Harrat Khaybar. From a high viewpoint it is possible to admire the elegantly spread silhouette of Jebel Bayda, the Fujiyama-like volcanic cone of Jebel Qidr, and the fancy hat-shaped of Jebel Al-'Aqir.

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    Hat-shaped Jebel Al-'Aqir (photo: Florent Egal)

    It is possible to reach safely some of the craters by foot in order to take the most of the out-of-this-world sights this place offers. Local Bedouins drive up the sides of the Jebel Bayda with theirs pickups but it is rather advisable to go for a short hike uphill instead.

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    Crater of Jebel Bayda (photo: Florent Egal)

    The sides of Jebel Abiadh are definitely to steep for car but the southern slope of the volcanic cone is just about gentle enough to allow a relatively safe (although slippery) climb up to the crater.

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    Crater of Jebel Abiadh (photo: Florent Egal)

    And the viewpoint from the summit of Jebel Abiadh is absolutely worth the effort. This volcano being the highest one peaking up at 2093 meters of altitude its offers stunning sights on the surrounding landscapes that seem to be from another world.

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    View on the center of the Harrat Khaybar from Jebel Abiadh (photo: Florent Egal)

    It is very important to note that reaching the white volcanoes by car implies driving through 50 kilometers of lava fields where Bedouins have dig deep tracks that are the only option since the ground in between tracks is covered with sharp basalt rocks that would shred any tire after few kilometers or even damage the bottom of the car. Moreover, many tracks led to dead-ends so proper and accurate planning has to be done before any trip there and guidance from locals have to be taken into account seriously.

    Given the difficulties to reach the center of the Harrat Khaybar the while volcanoes used to be a desert place for long but nowadays some Bedouins leave there and visitors are not uncommon. As a reminder of this no-longer-so-far human presence, camels are even found all around the area.

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    Camels at the bottom of Jebel Abiadh (photo: Florent Egal)

    The volcanic miracle of Arabia (author: Florent Egal)

    About the Author

    My name is Florent Egal, I am a French national living in Riyadh since January 2010. After six years of exploration of Saudi Arabia I have decided to show with this website that KSA has much more to offer than the stereotype landscape of empty extends of sand dunes. I hope that after reading through these pages people will feel the same willingness and amazement than I have to discover this fascinating country


    http://www.saudiarabiatourismguide.com/white-volcanoes/

    More info in this thread below:

    https://defence.pk/pdf/threads/the-...ophets-saws-mosque.498804/page-2#post-9581986
     
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  10. Gomig-21

    Gomig-21 SENIOR MEMBER

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    Awesome stuff, Saif! :-)

    It seems like craters tend to be flatter, with maybe remnants of the impacted earth around them like this one you poste and some of the ones in Saif's last post.

    Although this does look like some large, man-made well of some sorts with a perfect concrete wall inside, especially with what appears to be a factory pipe emitting smoke nearby.

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  11. DESERT FIGHTER

    DESERT FIGHTER ELITE MEMBER

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    compare the terrain dude..
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    Never drive in mountains during rainy season.. almost dead that day . lol

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  12. Saif al-Arab

    Saif al-Arab BANNED

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  13. Saif al-Arab

    Saif al-Arab BANNED

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    Continuing with the random photos:

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  14. Saif al-Arab

    Saif al-Arab BANNED

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    Last edited: Sep 19, 2017
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  15. Saif al-Arab

    Saif al-Arab BANNED

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