The Arabian Horizon: The Dry Deluge


The origin of Saharan Sand is one of life’s great mysteries.

Sand is the result of finely weathered and eroded rock.

It takes tens of thousands, if not millions, of years for exposed rock to weather into sand.

The longer this erosion takes place, the finer the grains.

The sand in the Sahara is some of the oldest on the planet; it is believed to have existed for seven million years (Source; Fearless Planet, Discovery Science).

Some of the sand dunes are rich in iron ore.

The impurities stain quartz particles, which accounts for their yellow colour.

Where did the Sahara sand come from?

It did not exist 6,000 years ago.

Experts are proposing that the vast oceans of sand formed in less than 3,000 years.

Comet Venus – Gary Gilligan – 2009

The origin of the sand in the Empty Quarter of Arabia is just as perplexing.

Breed et al. (1979) contended that the source of aeolian sand in the Rub’ al Khali is unknown but McClure (1978) considers that Quaternary sediments of this region are reworked Pliocene alluvial sediments.

The source of sand could also be from alluvial (wadi) sediments (Holm, 1960; Brown, 1960).

According to Bishop (2010) sand dunes in Rub’ al Khali were formed from multi-provenance supplies of quartz sand that includes Pleistocene emergent sea-floor lands due to significant drop in the sea-level in the Arabian Gulf, alluvial and wadi sands, and eroded sedimentary cover of the crystalline highlands of the Arabian Peninsula.

The source of massive amounts of sand present in Rub’ al Khali is not very clear (Breed et al . 1979).

An overview of Origin, Morphology and Distribution of Desert Forms, Sabkhas and Playas of the Rub’ al Khali Desert of the Southern Arabian Peninsula
Arun Kumar and Mahmoud M. Abdullah
Earth Science India, – Vol. 4(III) – July 2011 – pp. 105-135

Click to access tech_pdf-1328.pdf

However, there is evidence that two phases of “rapid” sand dune accretion have occurred in the Empty Quarter during the last 5,000 years.

More recent work based on optical dating chronologies conclude that rapid accretion of sand dunes began in Mid-Late Holocene followed by 5 ka and 2.8 ka rapid phases of dune deposition (Bray and Stokes, 2003)

An overview of Origin, Morphology and Distribution of Desert Forms, Sabkhas and Playas of the Rub’ al Khali Desert of the Southern Arabian Peninsula
Arun Kumar and Mahmoud M. Abdullah
Earth Science India, – Vol. 4(III) – July 2011 – pp. 105-135

Click to access tech_pdf-1328.pdf

Intriguingly, according to the mainstream, these two phases of “rapid” sand dune accretion coincided with the disappearance of the “shallow lakes” in the Empty Quarter.

Along the middle length of the desert there are a number of raised, hardened areas of calcium carbonate, gypsum, marl, or clay that were once the site of shallow lakes.

These lakes existed during periods from 6,000 to 5,000 years ago and 3,000 to 2,000 years ago.’_al_Khali


Luckily, the last two phases of “rapid” sand dune accretion in the Empty Quarter are conveniently colour coded whereby an undercoat of “white sand” can be observed alongside a streaked topcoat of “rust-colored” sand.


Notably, while the early lakes lie on white sand, lakes dated to the second phase all sit on foundations of rust-colored sand, indicating that the famous reddish color of the Rub’ al-Khali dates from between the two periods of lake formation.

Lakes of the Rub’ al-Khali
Written by Arthur Clark – Illustrated by Michael Grimsdale
Aramco World – Vol 40 Num 3 – May/June 1989

Click to access 198903.pdf

Fortuitously, the Empty Quarter is chemically coded with gypsum and feldspar to indicate the sand is of volcanic origin.

The sand is of a reddish-orange color due to the presence of feldspar.’_al_Khali

Feldspars (KAlSi3O8 – NaAlSi3O8 – CaAl2Si2O8) are a group of rock-forming tectosilicate minerals that make up as much as 60% of the Earth’s crust.

Feldspars crystallize from magma as veins in both intrusive and extrusive igneous rocks and are also present in many types of metamorphic rock.

Along the middle length of the desert there are a number of raised, hardened areas of calcium carbonate, gypsum, marl, or clay that were once the site of shallow lakes.’_al_Khali

Climbing the cliff to eastward of our camp I found myself on an extensive patch of gypsum, roughly circular in form and sinking gently from its outer perimeter to a smaller circular depression lightly covered with sand and grit.

At Shanna itself the northern dune-range cuts straight across the gypsum valley-bed which, however, continues beyond it in a north-easterly direction for a mile or more.

The Empty Quarter – H StJ P Philby – 1933
Gypsum is a soft sulfate mineral composed of calcium sulfate dihydrate, with the chemical formula CaSO4·2H2O.

Gypsum is deposited from lake and sea water, as well as in hot springs, from volcanic vapors, and sulfate solutions in veins.

Desert Sand and Volcanic Ash share a silicon dioxide heritage.

Sand is a naturally occurring granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles.

The composition of sand varies, depending on the local rock sources and conditions, but the most common constituent of sand in inland continental settings and non-tropical coastal settings is silica (silicon dioxide, or SiO2), usually in the form of quartz.

Quartz is the second most abundant mineral in Earth’s continental crust, after feldspar.

Its crystal structure is a continuous framework of SiO4 silicon–oxygen tetrahedra, with each oxygen being shared between two tetrahedra, giving an overall chemical formula of SiO2.

Silicon is a chemical element with symbol Si and atomic number 14.

Silicon is the eighth most common element in the universe by mass, but very rarely occurs as the pure element in the Earth’s crust. It is most widely distributed in dusts, sands, planetoids, and planets as various forms of silicon dioxide (silica) or silicates.

Over 90% of the Earth’s crust is composed of silicate minerals, making silicon the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust (about 28% by mass) after oxygen.


Volcanic ash consists of fragments of pulverized rock, minerals and volcanic glass, created during volcanic eruptions and measuring less than 2 mm (0.079 inches) in diameter.

Due to its wide dispersal, ash can have a number of impacts on society, including human and animal health, disruption to aviation, disruption to critical infrastructure (e.g., electric power supply systems, telecommunications, water and waste-water networks, transportation), primary industries (e.g., agriculture), buildings and structures.

Considering that the most abundant elements found in magma are silica (SiO2) and oxygen, the various types of magma (and therefore ash) produced during volcanic eruptions are most commonly explained in terms of their silica content.

Low energy eruptions of basalt produce a characteristically dark coloured ash containing ~45 – 55% silica that is generally rich in iron (Fe) and magnesium (Mg).

The most explosive rhyolite eruptions produce a felsic ash that is high in silica (>69%) while other types of ash with an intermediate composition (e.g., andesite or dacite) have a silica content between 55-69%

It seems reasonable to assume the sand was deposited by the “prevailing winds” because there are no known volcanoes in the Empty Quarter.

Lateral dispersion is controlled by prevailing winds and the ash may be deposited hundreds to thousands of kilometres from the volcano, depending on eruption column height, particle size of the ash and climatic conditions (especially wind direction and strength and humidity)



Click to access tech_pdf-1328.pdf

A simple colour tone analysis suggests the top layers of sand in the Empty Quarter are associated with several volcanic sources.


Sand from two [or more] northern sources arched around the central highlands before finally pooling in the north western corner of the Empty Quarter.

Sand from a southern source appears to have been blown along the length of the Empty Quarter [in a north easterly direction] before finally pooling at the eastern margin of the Empty Quarter.


Harrat Uwayrid
Rust-coloured sand from Harrat Uwayrid appears to have arched around the central highlands before finally pooling [highlighted in yellow – below] in the north western corner of the Empty Quarter in 640 CE.

The Harrat ‘Uwayrid, located in NW Saudi Arabia along the Bedouin pilgrim route to Syria, contains young basaltic scoria and tuff cones and associated lava fields.

The massive alkali olivine basaltic lava field reaches a height of 1920 m; it extends about 125 km in a NW-SE direction and is contiguous with the Harrat ar Rahat volcanic field to the NW.

The Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World (Neumann van Pandang, 1963a) indicated that an eruption in about 640 CE at Harrat ‘Uwayrid may have been from either Hala-‘l-Bedr or Hala-‘l-‘Ischia, or both.

Bedouin legends say that Hala-‘l-Bedr erupted fire and stones, killing herdsmen and their cattle and sheep.


Global Volcanism Program – Smithsonian Institution

Harrat Khaybar
Rust-coloured, silica-rich rhyolite from Jabal Abyad appears to have arched around the central highlands before finally pooling [highlighted in yellow – above] in the north western corner of the Empty Quarter possibly between 600 and 700 CE.

Note: The earlier explosive underwater eruption of Jabal Bayda deposited a base layer of fine white sand and gypsum across much of the Arabia [and beyond].

Harrat Khaybar, Saudi Arabia is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 16 crewmember on the International Space Station.

The western half of the Arabian peninsula contains not only large expanses of sand and gravel, but extensive lava fields known as haraat (harrat for a named field).

One such field is the 14,000-square kilometer Harrat Khaybar, located approximately 137 kilometers to the northeast of the city of Al Madinah (Medina).

According to scientists, the volcanic field was formed by eruptions along a 100-kilometer long north-south linear vent system over the past 5 million years; the most recent recorded eruption took place between 600 – 700 A.D.

Harrat Khaybar contains a wide range of volcanic rock types and spectacular landforms, several of which are represented in this view.


Jabal al Quidr is built from several generations of dark, fluid basalt lava flows; the flows surround the 322–meter high stratovolcano (Jabal is translated as “mountain” in Arabic).

Jabal Abyad, in the center of the image, was formed from a more viscous, silica-rich lava classified as a rhyolite.

While Jabal al Quidr exhibits the textbook cone shape of a stratovolcano, Jabal Abyad is a lava dome — a rounded mass of thicker, more solidified lava flows.

To the west (top center) is the impressive Jabal Bayda’.

This symmetric structure is a tuff cone, formed by eruption of lava in the presence of water.

This leads to the production of wet, sticky pyroclastic deposits that can build a steep cone structure, particularly if the deposits consolidate quickly.

White deposits visible in the crater of Jabal Bayda’ (and two other locations to the south) are formed from sand and silt that accumulate in shallow, protected depressions.

The presence of tuff cones — together with other volcanic features indicative of water — in the Harrat Khaybar suggest that the local climate was much wetter during some periods of volcanic activity.

Today, however, the regional climate is hyperarid — little to no yearly precipitation — leading to an almost total lack of vegetation.

From the text associated with the NASA Johnson Space Center image displayed at:


Jabal Abyad: Kingdom’s highest volcano
Roger Harrison – | Arab News – 18 Nov 2011


Volcano World – Hydrovolcanic Landforms
Oregon State University

Both tuff cones and their associated tuff rings were created by explosive eruptions from a vent where the magma is interacting with either groundwater or a shallow body of water as found within a lake or sea.

The interaction between the magma, expanding steam, and volcanic gases resulted in the production and ejection of fine-grained pyroclastic debris called ash with the consistency of flour.

The volcanic ash comprising a tuff cone accumulated either as fallout from eruption columns, from low-density volcanic surges and pyroclastic flows, or combination of these.

Tuff cones are typically associated with volcanic eruptions within shallow bodies of water and tuff rings are associated with eruptions within either water saturated sediments and bedrock or permafrost

Zubayr Group
The southern source is probably the Zubayr Group volcanoes in the Red Sea but this possibility is far more speculative because the deposition of sand can’t be backtracked across water whilst the peculiarities of the prevailing winds [from the Red Sea] funnels sand along the southern boundary of the Empty Quarter.


Global Volcanism Program – Smithsonian Institution

Al Zubair Group or Zubayr Group is a group of 10 major volcanic islands, on top of an underlying shield volcano in the Red Sea, which reach a height of 191 m (627 ft) above sea level.

The Arabian Horizon – 637
The above [speculative] backtracking of sources coupled with the “confirmed” eruptions [close to the Red Sea] indicate a massive release of silicon dioxide [aka volcanic ash aka sand aka quartz] and water vapour into the atmosphere contributed to the catastrophic Big Chill at the Arabian Horizon.


Global Volcanism Program – Smithsonian Institution


Volcanic gases include a variety of substances given off by active (or, at times, by dormant) volcanoes.

The principal components of volcanic gases are water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), sulfur either as sulfur dioxide (SO2) (high-temperature volcanic gases) or hydrogen sulfide (H2S) (low-temperature volcanic gases), nitrogen, argon, helium, neon, methane, carbon monoxide and hydrogen.

Researchers interested in Saharan Sand might find it worthwhile reviewing the colour coding of the volcanoes in the Canaries – especially Mount Teide.


Mount Teide is a volcano on Tenerife in the Canary Islands, Spain.

Its 3,718-metre (12,198 ft) summit is the highest point in Spain and the highest point above sea level in the islands of the Atlantic

The last explosive eruption involving the central volcanic centre was from Montaña Blanca around 2000 years ago.

The Neolithic Subpluvial is based primarily upon the dedicated work of Stefan Kröpelin.

However, it is difficult to explain the Neolithic Subpluvial because the wet and rainy weather that transformed the Sahara desert was temporally and spatially very sporadic.

Kröpelin suggests the transformation of the Sahara was driven by monsoon rains being “driven inland from the Gulf of Guinea”.

However, Kröpelin’s explanation is contradicted by his own data which shows the rains in the Sahara first appeared in the north and then migrated southwards i.e. not as suggested by Kröpelin. [clarification received from Stefan Kröpelin]

However, the Spiegel article is contradicted by Stefan Kröpelin’s data which shows the rains in the Sahara first appeared in the north and then migrated southwards.

A more likely explanation [freed from the straitjacket of the Geologic Time-line] for the temporally and spatially sporadic greening of the Sahara would be based upon the sporadic emergence [from beneath the waves] of the volcanic archipelagos off the west coast of Africa [in the Atlantic Ocean].



This entry was posted in Arabian Horizon, Atmospheric Science, Catastrophism, Geology, Heinsohn Horizon, History, Old Japanese Cedar Tree. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to The Arabian Horizon: The Dry Deluge

  1. Pingback: The Deluge | MalagaBay

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  3. oldbrew says:

    Digressing slightly…
    ‘Mount Teide is a volcano on Tenerife in the Canary Islands, Spain.
    Its 3,718-metre (12,198 ft) summit is the highest point in Spain’

    Oddly the Canary Islands are not in the EU (unlike Spain) according to the ‘duty free’ rules.

  4. tempestnut says:

    Interestingly I have traveled all over Arabia and seen much more of than even most people who spend time working there. Never realised all those volcanos where there. When you travel north or south of Ryadh as I did on numerous occasions you can’t but fail to notice the areas that are sand and the other areas where they have their farms. I’m sure you have noticed all the crop circles in the desert. Biggest chicken farmin the world is in the area to the nnw of Ryadh

  5. Louis Hissink says:

    The Khaybar lava field and “cones” are not volcanoes per se but phreatomagmatic craters formed by electric discharges. These are similar to kimberlites and the generating mechanism is a downward rotating vortex (Birkeland current(s)). It is quite possible for this mechanism to spew out “sand” comprised of quartz and felspars as well as pumice etc.

    Kimberlites occur as “dry” vortices, while Maars (water logged diatremes) formed in topographic lowlands while the Khaybar diatremes reflect perhaps an intermediate setting. Trouble is no one has seen these things erupt, so it’s all guess work.

    • tempestnut says:

      Ah that makes sense then. I need to read more carefully. This is a lot to take in even if you are like me more inclined to the electric universe than conventional thinking. When you look all over Arabia and north Africa all you see are what to me look like electrical scares. One day the penny will drop and much will change in our world. The truth is not going to be comfortable for the religious in our community though, and may escalate into conflict. Some one somewhere is holding documentation and knows the truth. Perhaps the Vatican.

      • Louis Hissink says:

        The other consideration is that the Khaybar craters seem very shallow in depth, very similar to cratering produced by arc-welding machines. Now if I were to favour a volcanic eruption mechanism for quartz and felspar sand, and keeping in mind the volume of material involved, one would need a rather large volcanic structure. No such luck in the Middle East but if we extend our scope outwards into the solar system, then Olympus Mons on Mars would be a contender. Red sand is rather common on the Australian deserts and the fossil dunes simply don’t seem to be susceptible to wind erosion and movement; unusual, Perhaps the effluvia from Olympus Mons ‘rained’ on Earth when Mars was closer and causing havoc, whether ~630 AD or earlier. I don’t know, too many imponderables in the equation but there’s no way this quartz rich sand is produced via the standard geological cycle.

  6. “However, Kröpelin’s explanation is contradicted by his own data which shows the rains in the Sahara first appeared in the north and then migrated southwards i.e. not as suggested by Kröpelin.”

    I never stated in any of my papers that the rains which have turned most of the Sahara green first appeared in the north. They always started in the south progressively shifting northward to gradually retreat southward after the maximum of the pluvials. This applies up to ~25°N. North of that latitude, Mediterranean influences played a major role in the hydroregime.

    Best regards – Stefan Kröpelin

  7. Louis Hissink says:

    And then there are the massive beds of quartz sandstone found in all of the sedimentary basins on the earth’ surface. Where did all that sand come from? Slow erosion of granitic terrain? And desert sand origin is a problem……

  8. yurki1000 says:

    Thanks a lot 🙂

    About the times.

    I see: Earth and Mars interacted and the deluge took place on Earth.

    “The Arc Blasted Earth | Space News”

    “Episode 2 Symbols of an Alien Sky: The Lightning Scarred Planet, Mars”

    “After the Flood”

    Text below:
    – We Stand on the Shoulders of Those Who Came Before Us –but Also on Their Heads, Backs, Stomachs and Feet! (and etc.) : Prologue Of all that lived prior to the flood; (flora and fauna) w e have burned their bodies or their remains for thousands of years for fuel. We utilize them in our cars and our machines. Their Detritus in their current forms are used to build houses and walls and streets and as binding agents. The mountains that we climb are made up of the remains of microscopic dead animals. The chemicals that made up the bones of the pre-flood living are used to fertilize our crops and gardens. Their remains may even be worn around our necks or on our fingers as jewelry. This planet is a vast graveyard and the life that existed before the flood is buried or entombed all around us-and are mute witnesses to Genesis.

    Interesting “sculptures”

    “Scientific Evidence for a Young Earth”


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