The geological origin of the Umm Al-Binni Lake within the Ahwar of Southern Mesopotamia, Iraq


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.

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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.

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Correspondence to Varoujan K. Sissakian.

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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).

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  • The Umm Al-Binni Lake
  • Ahwar
  • Meteorite-impact crater
  • Satellite images
  • Gravity and magnetic data analysis
  • Southern Mesopotamia
  • Neotectonics
  • Basement lineaments
  • Iraq