Jabal Al-Qarah, Saudi Arabia—from a Local Tourist Spot and Cultural World Heritage to a Geoheritage Site of Possible Global Relevance

Subhajit Sen, Piotr Migoń*, Ali Almusabeh, Mohamed Omar Abouelresh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Jabal Al-Qarah in the eastern part of Saudi Arabia is a flat-topped residual hill (mesa) built of calcareous sandstones, mudstones, and marls of Miocene age. It is located within the World Heritage property of Al-Ahsa Oasis, but geoheritage values were not considered in the nomination and remained overlooked. The locality is famous for its systems of maze caves developed along deep fractures by mainly mechanical erosion and wall/roof collapses. They illustrate the origin of non-karstic caves through the action of underground flows, redirected from the surface via sinkholes and open cracks. Hillsides of Jabal Al-Qarah show evidence of various types of mass movements, including spectacular collapses of harder overlying strata after denudation of weaker strata beneath caused loss of vertical support. Thus, the mesa may become a key locality to understand slope development in layered successions and the role of subsurface flows in the global context. The site also has considerable potential to develop geotourism, as an added value to the already recognized cultural assets of the oasis and scenic qualities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114
JournalGeoheritage
Volume15
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).

Keywords

  • Escarpments
  • Geotourism
  • Mass movements
  • Non-karstic caves
  • Sedimentary tablelands

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)

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