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Title: Late Quaternary palaeoenvironments of the Rub' Al Khali.
Author: McClure, Harold A.
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 1984
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The Rub' al Khali desert of the Arabian Peninsula is a structural basin which had filled with alluvium by the end of the Pliocene. During the late Quaternary, intense arid wind activity transformed it into an area of sand dunes. Occasional, brief rainfall periods gave rise to shallow lakes scattered among the dunes. Stratigraphic examination of the lake bed sites, combined with radiocarbon, sedimentary, geochemical, geomorphological, and biological data, provides a framework for interpreting late Quaternary climatic and geologic events in the region. The clastic sediments of the lakes were derived by runoff from surrounding sand dunes. Two distinct types of sand furnished the substratum on which lakes were deposited. Carbonate precipitation resulted from high rates of plant fixation and subsequent evaporation and concentration. Gypsum was the usual end product of the evaporative phase of the geochemical process, but dolomite was deposited in some cases. Radiocarbon dates on lake molluscs and mans indicate that rainfall, probably of monsoon nature, filled the lakes during two intervals, about 35,000 - 17,000 and 10,000 - 5, 000 years B.P. Lakes lasted from a few years to hundreds of years, and their depths ranged from about 2 meters to 10 meters. Temperatures were probably very warm throughout most of the Pleistocene, and hot in the latest Pleistocene and Holocene, with seasonality similar to that of today. The evidence of geology, geomorphology, and flora and fauna suggests that the Rub' al Khali evolved from a relatively subdued Pleistocene landscape of longitudinally furrowed and gently rounded dunes with lush grassland vegetation to a Holocene landscape of highly crested longitudinal dunes and prominent interdunes with sparse grass cover. The wind directions that prevailed throughout the Pleistocene probably persist today, but their intensities may have varied. The evidence from the Rub' al Khali is consistent with evidence from other parts of the Arabian Peninsula and the Near East and complements the low latitude record of other parts of the world, notably Australia and East Africa.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Geology Geology Mineralogy Sedimentology