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Western desert: source of inspiration of the ancient Egyptians

Western desert: source of inspiration of the ancient Egyptians
 
It is called by the experts Mine of Solar Energy; It covers an area of about 610.000 square kilometers, lies between Libyan border and Nile Valley and Delta from west and east, respectively, and is bounded from north by the Mediterranean Sea and Sudanese border from south.
Geomorphologically, Western Desert is characterized by it is a nearly peniplained desert and rocky plateau land with low to mild relief, arid climate with very rare rainfall and seasonally windy weather, absence of high relief mountainous areas and prominent wades except Gabal Uweinat at its southwestern corner, presence of internal drainage lines, sandy wind is the principal geomorphic agent that accentuated its characteristic landforms, and presence of large number of depressions and oases like Siwa, Qattara, Moghra, Fayum, Bahariya, Farafra, Dakhla, Kharga, Kurkur and Dungul, also is characterized by, presence of several sands dune belts and sand sea like Abu Moharik Sand Dune, Ghorabi Sand Dune, El Hussein Sand Dune and Qazzun Sand Dune.
Also People (inhabitants) live and plant the oases of the depressions depending upon the underground water and springs.
The vast desert land of the Western Desert comprises six main geomorphic units being from south to north, the first is Gabal Uweinat, it lies at the southwestern corner of the Western Desert, and extends in Libya, Sudan and Chad. The mountain attains a height of about 1934 m above sea level, and is built up of Precambrian igneous and metamorphic rocks. East-and northwards, that high mountain descends gradually forming more or less sandy plain of low relief with scattered hills and hillocks. This vast sandy plain area (~ 250 square Km.) is subjected since nineties to development programs for cultivation based on the underground water and known as East Qweinat- Darb El Arbin project to establish a new human being community.
The second, El Gilf El Kebir Plateau that attains height about 1000-m, and is formed of Nubian sandstone facies ranging in age from Paleozoic to Cretaceous. It receives no rainfall, and of high summer- and low winter- temperatures. At the west and north the Great Sand Sea covers it, while natural glass sands cover its eastern side.
The third is Oases Land, as The Gilf El Kebir Plateau slopes northeastwards to the well-known Kharga, Dakhla and Farafra Depressions, which have different geomorphic shapes and landforms. During sixties the Egyptian Government made a great effort to establish a new large human community called the New Valley at Kharga and Dakhla depression.
The fourth is The Eocene Plateau that has an elevation of about 500 m, and made up of Eocene carbonates with scarps consisting of Cretaceous and Paleocene clastics and carbonates. The plateau delimits from north the southern the Western desert Depressions (refers to Kharga, Dakhla, Farafra, Kurkur and Dungul), while the Bahariya depression was carved within it.
The fifth is The Marmarica or Miocene Plateau ,the Eocene plateau merges northwards into another plateau with an elevation up to 200-m, known as Marmarica Plateau. This plateau is made up of Oligo-Miocene clastic scarps capped with Miocene carbonates forming the plateau surface. At the southern margin of the plateau exist the Qattara, Siwa and Moghra depressions. The Qattara Depression is huge sized depression reaching a depth of about 134-m with steep to wall like scarps, and its floor is covered with loose sands, mud and sabkha. The Qattara depression was studied geologically and hydrogoelogically for evaluating the possibility of generating electricity through connecting the Mediterranean water to fall in the depression.
The sixth is Mediterranean coastal stretch, this land stretch forms the Mediterranean coast, with an average width of about 1 Km. It is characterized by it beautiful beaches and bays, and is mainly built by Pliocene and Pleistocene sandy carbonates forming coastal ridges.

 
 
Written By: Dr. Ali Taha Omar
Photos