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Inverted Channels in the Eastern Sahara—Distribution, Formation, and Interpretation to Enable Reconstruction of Paleodrainage Networks

  • Abdallah S. ZakiEmail author
  • Robert Giegengack
  • Sébastien Castelltort
Chapter
Part of the Geography of the Physical Environment book series (GEOPHY)

Abstract

During the Cenozoic Era, the Egyptian Sahara was the site of fluvial activity in a succession of at least three main drainage systems, including the Gilf System (40–16 Ma ago), the Qena System (24–6 Ma ago), and the Nile (30 Ma ago to present). These systems developed as a response to wet conditions, the dramatic events of tectonic activity in the Red Sea Region and southwestern Egypt, and changes of sea level in the Tethys Sea in Late Eocene time to sea-level rise in Late Pleistocene time. The modern Nile consists of captured components of ancestral Nile segments. Representatives of those Nile ancestors and lost tributaries of the Nile have been buried beneath dune fields and sand seas, or have been eroded by wind deflation to be topographically inverted. In this chapter, we present the distribution of inverted river channels in the Egyptian Sahara, and a description of the mechanisms that led to the development of those features during several periods of time within the Cenozoic Era. Moreover, we offer some stratigraphic and geomorphic interpretations that enable reconstructions paleodrainage networks and paleoclimates during those periods of time. Further study of the geochronology and paleohydrology of these relics is necessary to reconstruct the fluvial and paleoclimatic history of the eastern Sahara.

Keywords

Nile Inverted topography Cenozoic Quaternary Sahara Climate oscillation 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Abdallah Zaki gratefully acknowledges the support of the Swiss Confederation excellence fellowships program (fellowship No: 2017.1006). Thanks go to Mathieu Schuster for sharing a lot of information on the paleoclimate of Sahara. The authors are grateful to Kenneth Edgett from Malin Space Science Systems and Sanjeev Gupta from the Imperial College of London for sharing information on the evolution of inversion of relief on Earth and Mars. We also would like to thank Rebecca Williams from the Planetary Science Institute for her comments on some ideas in this chapter. We greatly appreciate the constructive comments and edits suggested by the reviewers and the editor.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Abdallah S. Zaki
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robert Giegengack
    • 2
  • Sébastien Castelltort
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Earth and Environmental ScienceUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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