The NSS Bulletin - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 52 Number 1: 21-32 - June 1990

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Karst Landforms in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Wm. David Peters, John J. Pint, and Norbert Kremla


Between 1982 and 1987, the authors explored a wide variety of karst landforms throughout Saudi Arabia. These landforms are found primarily in the central and eastern parts of the Kingdom. Dry valleys are associated with the three major river systems which drained the Kingdom during the Pliocene and Pleistocene pluvial periods. Five deep gorges associated with these relict river system breach a belt of steep limestone escarpments in central Arabia. Two large lakes, which probably originated from anhydrite solution and collapse of the overlying limestone units, are located in central Arabia, south of Riyadh. Countless dolines and a few cave systems pierce the limestone plateaus in a wide area to the north and east of Riyadh. The density of these dolines and caves is highest in the As Sulb region. We present three cave maps and briefly discuss the characteristics of eleven different types of caves and dolines in this area. Clusters of karst springs provide water for two large oases on the Arabian Gulf coast. The largest of these artesian springs has an output of 1700 liters per second. Vertical fissures, with a ground-level entry, are cut into low escarpments in parts of eastern Saudi Arabia. One maze-like fissure system includes 745 meters of passage.

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