The Umm Al-Binni Lake is one of the well-known lakes within the Ahwar of southern Mesopotamia in Iraq. It is located about 45 km north of the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The Umm Al-Binni Lake has been postulated as a-meteorite-impact crater, particularly by geo-archeologists, based on indices such as shape, size, depth, and the presence of a perceived lake-rim structure. However, no unambiguous evidence of such an impact has been put forward to date though. The lake measures 3.4 km in diameter, and it has a polygonal shape, with a maximum depth of 3 m. The age of the alleged crater was estimated to be less than 5000 years (or earlier than 3000 BC), based on the reported deposition rates of the Tigris–Euphrates delta sediments as a result of the Holocene sea-level changes of the Arabian Gulf during that time around the Umm Al-Binni Lake area. In the current study, using geophysical data and remote-sensing techniques investigates the origin of the Umm Al-Binni Lake. The results of magnetic and gravity analyses showed that the Ahwar area of southern Mesopotamia, including the Umm Al-Binni Lake, was subjected to the differential subsidence of the basement faulted blocks, as the distribution of the lakes is mostly controlled by such basement tectonic zones of weakness. Satellite imagery also showed some evidence of anthropogenic activity that contributed to the shaping of the southern sector of the Lake rim, which locally displays an angular shape. None of the latter evidence could support any meteorite-impact origin for the Umm Al-Binni Lake.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Al-Sakaini J (1993) New look on the history of old Tigris and Euphrates rivers, on the light of geological evidences, recent archeological and historical sources. Oil Exploartion Company, Baghdad, Iraq, p 93 (in Arabic)
Aqrawi AAM (1993) Implications of sea-level fluctuations, sedimentation and neotectonics for the evolution of the marshlands (Ahwar) of southern Mesopotamia. In: Owen LA, Stewart I, Vita-Finzi C (eds) International symposium on Neotectonics; recent advances, 6–7 June, Burlington House, London. Quaternary Association, Cambridge. Quaternary Proceedings 3:21–31
Aqrawi AAM (1995) Correction of Holocene sedimentation rates for mechanical compaction: the Tigris-Euphrates Delta, Lower Mesopotamia. Mar Pet Geol 12(4):409–416
Aqrawi AAM (1997) The nature and preservation of organic matters in the lacustrine / deltaic sediments of southern Mesopotamia. J Pet Geol 20:69–90
Aqrawi AAM (2001) Stratigraphic signatures of climatic change during the Holocene evolution of the Tigris-Euphrates delta, lower Mesopotamia. Glob Planet Chang 28:267–283
Aqrawi AAM, Evans G (1994) Sedimentation in lakes and marshes (Ahwar) of the Tigris-Euphrates Delta, southern Mesopotamia. Sedimentology 41:755–776
Aqrawi AAM, Domas J, Jassim SZ (2006) Quaternary deposits, Chapter 15. In: Jassim SZ, Goff JC (eds) . Geology of Iraq. Dolin, Prague and Moravian Museum, Brno, pp 185–198
Aqrawi AAM, Goff JC, Horbury AD, Sadooni FN (2010) The petroleum geology of Iraq. Scientific Press Ltd., 424pp
Baratoux D, Reimold WU (2016) The current state of knowledge about shatter cones: introduction to the special issue. Meteorit Planet Sci 51:1389–1434
Bjorkman JK (1973) Meteors and meteorites in the ancient near east. Meteoritics 8(2):91
Buday T, Jassim SZ (1987) The regional geology of Iraq, Vol 2. Tectonism, Magmatism, and Metamorphism. Iraq Geological Survey Publications, Baghdad, Iraq, p 352
Compagnie General De Geophysique (CGG) (1974) Aeromagnetic and aerospectrometric survey of Iraq. Iraq Geological Survey Library Report no. 2642, 103 pp
Courty MA (1997) Causes and effects of the 2350 BC Middle East anomaly evidenced by micro-debris fallout, surface combustion and soil explosion. Society for Interdisciplinary Studies Conference: natural catastrophes during bronze age civilizations, July 11–13, 1997, Cambridge, UK (Abstract)
Fouad SF (2012) Tectonic map of Iraq, scale 1:1000000, 3rd ed. Iraq Geological Survey Publications, Baghdad, Iraq
Fouad SF, Sissakian VK (2011) Tectonic and structural evolution. In: Geology of the Mesopotamia plain. Iraqi Bull. Geol. Min., Special Issue, No.4, pp 33–46
French BM (2003) Traces of catastrophe. Lunar and Planetary Institute, 120 pp
French BM, Koeberl C (2010) The convincing identification of terrestrial meteorite impact structures: what works, what doesn’t, and why. Earth Sci Rev 98:123–170
GEOSURV and GETECH (2011) Reprocessing, compilation and data basing the aeromagnetic and gravity data of Iraq 2. GETECH Group plc, Leeds, UK, 32pp
Grieve RAF, Pilkington M (1996) The signature of terrestrial impacts. AGSO J Aust Geol Geophys 16:300–420
Jassim SZ, Goff JC (2006) Geology of Iraq Dolin, Prague and Moravian Museum, Brno. For this general reference you better refer to the chapters dealing with both geology and tectonics individually
Koeberl C, Reimold WU, Plescia J (2005) BP and oasis impact structures, Libya: remote sensing and field studies. Impact Tectonics, pp 161–190
Larsen CE, Evans G (1978) The Holocene geological history of the Tigris – Euphrates – Karun Delta. In: Brice WC (ed) The environmental history of the near and Middle East since the last ice age. Academic Press, London, pp 227–244
Master, S., 2001. A possible holocene impact structure in the Al-Amarah Marshes, Near the Tigris – Euphrates Confluence, Southern Iraq. Meteoritics & Planetary Science 36 supplement: A124
Master, S., 2002. Umm Al-Binni Lake, a possible Holocene impact structure in the marshes of southern Iraq: Geological evidence for its age, and implications for Bronze-age Mesopotamia. In: Leroy, S and Stewart, IS (Eds), Environmental Catastrophes and Recovery in the Holocene. Abstracts Volume, Department of Geography, Brunel University, Uxbridge, West London, UK, pp.56–57
Master, S. and Woldai, T., 2004. The Umm Al-Binni structure in the Mesopotamian marshlands of southern Iraq, as a postulated late Holocene meteorite impact crater. Economic geology research institute information circular, October 2004, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, p. 89–103
Master S, Woldai T (2006) Umm Al-Binni structure, southern Iraq, as a postulated late Holocene meteorite impact crater: new satellite imagery and proposals for future research. In: Bobrowsky P, Rickmann H (eds) Comet/asteroid impacts and human society. Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, p 141
Napier W (1997) Cometary catastrophes, cosmic dust and ecological disasters in historical times: the astronomical framework. Society for Interdisciplinary Studies Conference: natural catastrophes during bronze age civilizations, July 11–13, 1997, Cambridge, UK (Abstract)
Osinski GR, Tornabene LL, Banerjee NR, Cockell CS, Flemming R, Izawa MRM, McCutcheon J, Parnell J, Preston LJ, Pickersgill AE, Pontefract A, Saper HM, Southam G (2013) Impact-generated hydrothermal systems on Earth and Mars. Icarcus 224:347–363
Peiser B (1997) Comets and disaster in the bronze age. Br Archaeol 30:6–7
Pilkington M, Grieve RAF (1992) The geophysical signature of terrestrial impact craters. Rev Geophys 30:161–181
Reimold WU, Koeberl C (2014) Impact structures in Africa: a review. J Afr Earth Sci 93:57–175
Saint-Laurent D, Lavoie L, Drouin A, St-Laurent J, Ghaleb B (2010) Floodplain sedimentation rates, soil properties and recent flood history in southern Québec. Global and Planetary Changes 70:76–91
Sanders NK (1960) The epic of Gilgamesh. Penguin Books, London
Sissakian VK (2013) Geological evolution of the Iraqi Mesopotamia Foredeep and inner platform, and near surrounding areas of the Arabian Plate. J Asian Earth Sci 72:152–163
Sissakian V, Fouad SF (2012) Geological Map of Iraq, scale 1:1000000, 4th edn. Iraq Geological Survey Publications, Baghdad
Watson KM, Watson E, Aalto R, Lauer JW, Bera MT, Marshall A, Taylor MP, Apte SC, Dietrich WE (2008) Sediment load and floodplain deposition rates: comparison of the Fly and Strickland rivers, Papua New Guinea. J Geophys Res 113:F01S03. https://doi.org/10.1029/2006JF000623
Weiss H, Courty MA, Wetterstrom W, Guichard F, Senior L, Meadow R, Curnow A (1993) The genesis and collapse of third millennium north Mesopotamian civilization. Science 261:995–1004
Yacoub, S.Y., 2011a. Geomorphology. In: Geology of the Mesopotamia Plain. Iraqi Bulletin of Geology and Mining. Special Volume No. 3, p.7–32
Yacoub, S.Y., 2011b. Stratigraphy. In: Geology of the Mesopotamia Plain. Iraqi Bulletin of Geology and Mining. Special Volume No. 3, p. 47–82
The authors gratefully acknowledge the role of the Iraq Geological Survey (GEOSURV) in providing the geophysical data required to accomplish this study. Sincere thanks are extended to Dr. Wolf Uwe Reimold for his critical review, discussions and amendment of the manuscript; without his help we would not be able to amend the manuscript in its current form. We also extend our sincere thanks to the reviewers for their critical comments which have amended the manuscript.
About this article
Cite this article
Sissakian, V.K., Al-Bahadily, H.A. The geological origin of the Umm Al-Binni Lake within the Ahwar of Southern Mesopotamia, Iraq. Arab J Geosci 11, 669 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12517-018-4004-6
- The Umm Al-Binni Lake
- Meteorite-impact crater
- Satellite images
- Gravity and magnetic data analysis
- Southern Mesopotamia
- Basement lineaments