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DMP VIII: Palaeohydrology and palaeoenvironment

  • Nicholas Drake (a1), Kevin White (a2), Mustapha Salem (a3), Simon Armitage (a4), Ahmed El-Hawat (a5), Jan Francke (a1), Mark Hounslow (a6) and Adrian Parker (a7)...

The January 2009 fieldwork season conducted geomorphological and palaeoenviromental surveys in as yet unexplored parts of the Lake Megafazzan Basin, as well as continuing research in the Wadi al-Hayat and Ubari Sand Sea. Lake Megafazzan sediments were investigated at two sites on the eastern margin of the basin. At the first site, east of Tamessah, 24 m of stratigraphy was investigated and found to consist of a lacustrine carbonate unit at the base progressing into a fluvial unit and then an upper carbonate unit. The sediments were sampled for magnetostratigraphy and cosmogenic nucleide dating in order to determine their age. Similar studies were undertaken in the vicinity of the Arial Agricultural Project, where 31 m of section were logged and sampled. Here the sediments were quite different, being composed of a deltaic sequence consisting of stacked channels and palaeosols, thought to represent the outflow delta of the palaeolake. Many new Holocene lake sediment deposits were discovered and sampled in the Wadi al-Hayat and the Ubari Sand Sea, including a 5 m section through Jarma Playa that appears to record the last arid-humid cycle. Lake Gabr 'Awn and the moat round Old Jarma were cored in order to gather a detailed picture of recent palaeoenvironmental change. Finally, we implemented a pilot geophysical survey to test the ability of state-of-the-art Ground Penetrating Radar (UltraGPR) technology for detecting and mapping buried palaeolake sediments under the dunes of the Ubari Sand Sea. The UltraGPR was found to be very effective, detecting palaeolake sediments as much as 60 m beneath the surface. Preliminary results suggest such sediments underlie much of the region.

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Brooks, N., Drake, N., MacLaren, S. and White, K. 2003. Studies in Geography, Geomorphology, Environment and Climate. In Mattingly, D.J., Dore, J.N. and Wilson, A.I. (eds) The Archaeology of Fazzan Volume I: Synthesis. Society for Libyan Studies, London: 3774.
Charlton, M.B. and White, K. 2006. Sensitivity of radar backscatter to desert surface roughness. International Journal of Remote Sensing 27: 16411659.
Drake, N.A., Wilson, A., Pelling, R., White, K.H., Mattingly, D. and Black, S. 2004. Water Table Decline, Springline Desiccation and the Early Development of Irrigated Agriculture in the Wādī al-Ajāl, Libyan Fazzan. Libyan Studies 35: 95112.
Drake, N.A., El-Hawat, A.S., Turner, P., Armitage, S.J., Salem, M.J., White, K.H. and McLaren, S. 2008. Palaeohydrology of the Fazzan Basin and Surrounding Regions: the Last 7 Million Years. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 263: 131145.
Lahr, M.M., Armitage, S., Barton, H., Crivellaro, F., Drake, N., Foley, R., Maher, L., Mattingly, D., Salem, M., Stock, J. and White, K. 2008. DMP III: Pleistocene and Holocene palaeonvironments and prehistoric occupation of Fazzan, Libyan Sahara. Libyan Studies 39: 263294.
Mattingly, D.J., Lahr, M.M., Armitage, S., Barton, H., Dore, J.N., Drake, N., Foley, R., Merlo, S., Salem, M., Stock, J. and White, K. 2007. Desert Migrations: people, environment and culture in the Libyan Sahara. Libyan Studies 38: 115156.
Peregi, Z. 2003. Geological map of Libya 1:250,000, Sheet: Al Haruj al Abyad Ng 33—8; Geological Map Explanatory Booklet.
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Thiedig, F.M., Oezen, D., El-Chair, M. and Geyh, M.A. 2000. The absolute age of the Quaternary lacustrine limestone of the Al Mahruqah Formation – Murzuq Basin, Libya. In: Sola, M.A. and Worsley, D. (eds), Geological Exploration in the Murzuq Basin. Elsevier, Amsterdam: 89116.
White, K., Charlton, M., Drake, N., McLaren, S., Mattingly, D. and Brooks, N. 2006. Lakes of the Edeyen Awbari and the Wadi al-Hayat. In Mattingly, D., McLaren, S., Savage, E., al-Fasatwi, Y. and Gadgood, K. (eds) The Libyan Desert, Natural Resources and Cultural Heritage. The Society for Libyan Studies, London: 123130.
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Libyan Studies
  • ISSN: 0263-7189
  • EISSN: 2052-6148
  • URL: /core/journals/libyan-studies
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