[meteorite-list] Scientific Expedition to Explore Empty Quarter in Saudia Arabia, Including Impact Crater
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Tue Feb 21 00:34:20 2006
Multinational Scientific Expedition to Explore Empty Quarter
P.K. Abdul Ghafour
February 20, 2006
JEDDAH - A group of 50 scientists from Saudi Arabia,
the United States, Switzerland and Egypt will spend nearly two weeks in
the deserts of the Empty Quarter. The Empty Quarter - in Arabic, Ar-rub
Al-Khali - is an area of some 560,000 square kilometers which accounts
for more than a quarter of Saudi Arabia. The scientists will study
various features of the region along with its geographic and geological
Organized by the Saudi Geological Survey (SGS), the 13-day trip will run
from Feb. 23 through March 11. The group will concentrate on the
northern and eastern parts of the vast region. According to an SGS
statement, the main purpose of the journey is to stimulate scientific
interest in the region.
"The excursion will provide an overview of aspects of the geology,
geography, hydrogeology, environment, wildlife, tourism potential, and
known antiquities of the region," the SGS said.
The Empty Quarter, located in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula, is
1,200 kilometers long and 650 kilometers wide. It is among the largest
continuous deserts in the world with a total area of 650,000 square
kilometers. About 80 percent of this is in the Kingdom. Its eastern
edges extend into the United Arab Emirates, and its southern margin is
in the Sultanate of Oman. Parts of its southern and southwestern limits
are also in the Republic of Yemen.
The scientists will make field investigations and will visit important
natural features of the region, including the meteorite crater at
Hadeedah, the antiquities and ancient wells near Kharkheer and other
historical places, the SGS statement said.
"They will have the opportunity to observe, at close range, a variety of
landforms, particularly sand dunes, inter-dune lakebeds and dip-slope
topography created by the underlying bedrock," the statement said.
The scientists will take samples, document their observations, present a
summary of their findings and propose future work, the SGS said. "As one
of the goals of the SGS is to inform the world about this vast and
unique part of the Kingdom, the results of the tour will be widely
published," it added.
The scientists will be in Jeddah on Thursday (Feb. 23) and leave for
Riyadh the next day. On Saturday they will leave by car for Haradh, 350
km southeast of Riyadh, and attend a ceremony marking the beginning of
the trip. On Sunday, when the expedition officially begins, the team
will leave for Al-Husan in order to see different kinds of sand dunes.
The trip will also take them to Al-Shaibah, Aradah, Sahmah and other
areas where they will study desert vegetation, wildlife, gypsum
deposits, ancient trade caravan routes, artesian wells, sulfurous water
and old water wells.
On March 10, the team will return to Jeddah. The next day at a meeting
at SGS headquarters in the city, they will discuss findings and future
Saudi Arabia has signed agreements with Russia's Lukoil, China Petroleum
and Chemical Corp. (Sinopec) and a consortium of Spain's Repsol YPF and
Italy's ENI for upstream gas exploration and production in the Empty
The contracts with the three companies to explore and produce
non-associated gas in 120,000 square kilometers of the northern part of
the desert region were signed in Riyadh in March 2004.
Received on Tue 21 Feb 2006 12:12:38 AM PST