Ghard Abu Moharik Sand SeaOpen image in new window

  • Nabil Sayed Embabi
Part of the World Geomorphological Landscapes book series (WGLC)


Ghard Abu Moharik (GAM) is an unusual linear sand sea in the Western Desert of Egypt; it extends about 800 km from its proximal head northeast of Bahariya Oasis to the Egypt–Sudan border. Its width varies from 50 km at latitude 22° 15′ to 12.5 km at latitude 29°. GAM comprises three geomorphic divisions: the northern section, the central section, and the southern section. Despite the variance in dune density, the northern and middle sections comprise mainly linear dunes, whereas the southern section in Kharga Depression and the southern Plain contain mostly barchans. Mega-ripples and barchans and barchanoids with north to northwest facing slip faces characterize the central section. GAM is composed mainly of medium-to-fine quartz sands (2–3 Ø). Analysis of mineral composition indicated that the sands of the central section passed fewer cycles than those of the southern section. The texture of the grain surface exhibit effects of mechanical and chemical processes in recent and in ancient environments.


Sand seas Abu Moharik Egypt Dune forms Barchan movement 


  1. Abdel-Rahman M, El-Baz F (1979) Detection of a probable ancestral delta of the Nile River. In: El-Baz, Warner D (eds) Appolo-Soyuz Test Project. Vol II, Earth Observations and Photography, NASA, Washington DC, p 511–520Google Scholar
  2. Ali A (1999) Geomorphology of the linear sand dunes NE of bahariya depression, the Western Desert, Egypt (in Arabic). The Arab Geographical Journal 34:323–365Google Scholar
  3. Bagnold R (1941) The physics of blown sand and desert dunes. Methuen, LondonGoogle Scholar
  4. Ball J (1927) Problems of the Libyan Desert. Geog Jour LXX: 21–38, 105–128 and 209–224Google Scholar
  5. Ball J (1939) Contribution to the Geography of Egypt. Survy and Mines Department, Ministry of Finance Egypt, Government Press, CairoGoogle Scholar
  6. Beadnell H (1910) The sand dunes of the Libyan Desert. The Geographical Journal 35:379–395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Besler H (2002a) Complex barchans in the Libyan Desert: dune traps or overtaking solitons? Z. Geomorph. N. F. Suppl. 126:59–74Google Scholar
  8. Besler H (2002b) The Great Sand Sea (Egypt) during the late Pleistocene and the Holocene. Zeit fur Geomorphologie N. E. Suppl. Bd 126:59–74Google Scholar
  9. Besler H (2002c) The Great Sand Sea (Egypt) during the Pleistocene and the Holocene. Z. Geomorph N. F. Suppl. Bd 127:1–19Google Scholar
  10. Brookes I (2003) Geomorphic indicators of Holocene winds in Egypt’s Western Desert. Geomorphology 56:155–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cooke R, Warren A, Goudie A (1993) Desert Geomorphology. UCL Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  12. Donner J, Embabi N (2000) The significance of yardangs and ventifacted rock outcrops in the reconstruction of changes in the Late Quaternary wind regime in the Western Desert of Egypt. Quaternaire 11:179–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. El-Baz F (1992) Origin and evolution of sand seas in the Great Sahara and implications to petroleum and ground water exploration. In: Sadek A (ed) Proceedings of the 1st. Conference on the Geology of the Arab World, Cairo University, Cairo, 1992Google Scholar
  14. El-Baz F, Breed C, Grolier M, McCauley J (1979) Eolian features in the Western Desert and some implications to Mars J Geophys Research 84:8205–8221Google Scholar
  15. El-Gammal E, Cherif O, El-Aleem E (2005) Genetic development of Ghard Abu Moharik dune field, Western Desert, Egypt. In: Ali A (ed) Proceedings of a Symposium on the Role of Scientific Research in Combating Desertification and Fixation of Mobile Sand Dunes, Sultan Qabus University, Muscat, 2005Google Scholar
  16. Embabi N (1976–1977) Slope form of barchan dunes in Kharga and Dakhla Depressions. Bulletin de la Societé de Géographie d’Égypte 49–50:13–28Google Scholar
  17. Embabi N (1979) Barchan dune movement & its effect on economic development in the Kharga Oases Depression, the Western Desert, Egypt (in Arabic). J. Middle East Research Center 6:51–84Google Scholar
  18. Embabi N (1986–1987) Dune movement in the Kharga and Dakhla Oases Depressions, the Western Desert, Egypt. Bulletin de la Société de Géographie d’Égypte, 59-60:35–70Google Scholar
  19. Embabi N (1982) Barchans of The Kharga Depression. In: El-Baz F, Maxwell T (eds) Desert landforms of Southwest Egypt: A basis for comparison with Mars. NASA, Washington DC, pp 141–155Google Scholar
  20. Embabi N (1991) Dune types and patterns in the United Arab Emirates using Landsat-TM data. Proceedings of the 24th International Symposium on Remote Sensing of Environment, 27–31 May 1991, Rio de Janeiro 2:695–909Google Scholar
  21. Embabi N (1995) Types and patterns of sand dunes in Egypt. Bulletin de la Societé de Géographie d’Égypte 68:57–89Google Scholar
  22. Embabi N (1998) Sand seas of the Western Desert of Egypt. In: Al-Sharhan A, Glennie K, Whittle G Kendall C (eds) Proceedings of the International Conference on Quaternary Deserts and Climatic Change, Al-Ain, Rotterdam, Balkema, 1995Google Scholar
  23. Embabi N (1999) Playas of the Western Desert. Egypt. Ann Acad Sci Fennicae, Geologica-Geographica 160:5–47Google Scholar
  24. Embabi N (2000) Sand dunes in Egypt. In: Soliman S (ed) Sedimentary Geology of Egypt: Applications and Economics, part 1. Special Publication, The Sedimentological Society of Egypt, Cairo, pp 179–183Google Scholar
  25. Embabi N (2004) Geomorpholgy of Egypt. Vol. I, the Nile Valley and the Western Desert. Special Publication, The Egyptian Geographical Society, CairoGoogle Scholar
  26. Embabi N, Ashour M (1993) Barchan dunes in Qatar. Journal of Arid Environment 25:49–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Embabi N, Mostafa A, Mahmoud A, Azab M (2012) Geomorphology of Ghard Abu Moharik, Western Desert. Egypt. Bull Soc d’Géographie d’Égypte 85:1–28Google Scholar
  28. Fitzpatrick K, Summerson C (1971) Some observations on electron micrographs of quartz sand grains. The Ohio Journal of Science 71:106–119Google Scholar
  29. Folk R, Ward W (1957) Brazos River bar: A study on the significance of grain size parameters. J Sediment Petrol 27:3–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Fryberger S (1979) Dune forms and wind regime. In: McKee E (ed) A Study of Global Sand Seas. US Geol Survey Prof, Washington DC 1052:137–170Google Scholar
  31. Gehlen B, Kinderman K, Linstädter J, Riemer H (2002) The Holocene occupation of Eastern Sahara: Regional chronologies and supra-regional developments in four areas of the absolute desert. Africa Prehistorica, Heinrich-Barth-Institute, Köln 14:85–116Google Scholar
  32. Gifford A, Warner D, El-Baz F (1979) Orbital Observations of sand distribution in the Western Desert of Egypt, Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, Summary Science Report. In: El-Baz F, Warner D (eds) Vol. II: Earth Observations and Photography. NASA, Washington, DC, p 219–236Google Scholar
  33. Google Earth (2014) Egypt Images Latitudes 22-32 N and Longitudes 22-32 E,
  34. Hamdan G (1980) The personality of Egypt, part I: The Physical personality, (in Arabic) A’alm El-Kotob, CairoGoogle Scholar
  35. Harding K (1918) Study of a dune belt. The Geographical Journal 51:16–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hassan O, El-Leithy B (2004) Monitoring of sand dunes migration for developing mitigative measures in El-Kharga Depression, Western Desert. Egypt. Egypt, Journal of Remote Sensing and Space Sciences 7:71–88Google Scholar
  37. Hume, W. F., 1934, Distribution of sand deposits in Egypt, Chapter III in Geology of Egypt, Vol. I: The surface features of Egypt, their determining causes and relation to geological structure, Survey of Egypt, Government Press, Ministry of Finance, Cairo, pp. 29–81Google Scholar
  38. Kar A (1990) The megabarchanoids of the Thar: their environment, morphology, and relationship with longitudinal dunes. The Geographical Journal 156:51–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Krinsley D, Donahue J (1968) Environmental interpretation of sand grain surface textures by electron microscopy. Bulletin of Geological Society of America 79:743–748CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Krinsley D, Doornkamp J (1973) Atlas of quartz sand surface features. CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  41. Maxwell T (1982) Sand sheet and lag deposits in south Western Desert. In: El-Baz F, Maxwell T (eds) Desert Landforms of Southwest Egypt: A Basis for Comparison with Mars. NASA, Washington DC, pp p157–173Google Scholar
  42. Meteorological Authority of Egypt (1975) Climatological Normals of Egypt. CairoGoogle Scholar
  43. Mojzsis S, El-Baz F (1992) The Bahariya River: A palaeodrainage system in the Western Desert of Egypt. In: Sadek A (ed) Proceedings of the First Conference on the Geology of The Arab World, Cairo University, CairoGoogle Scholar
  44. Pye K, Tsoar H (1990) Aeolian sand and sand dunes. Uniwin Hyman Ltd, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Pachur H, Röper H (1984) The Libyan “Western Desert” and Northern Sudan during the Late Pleistocene and Holocene. In: Klitzsch E, Said R, Schrank E (eds) Research in Egypt and Sudan, Band 50, Results of the Special Research Project in Arid Areas, Period 1981–1984, Reihe A, Berlin, 50:249–284Google Scholar
  46. Porter ML (1986) Sedimentary record of erg migration. Geology 14(6):497Google Scholar
  47. Sadiek K, Rashed M, Mansour M (1995) Textural characteristics and genesis of barchan dune deposits, Kharga Oasis. Egypt. Egypt Journal of Geology 39:599–629Google Scholar
  48. Said R (1990) Cenozoic. In: Said R (ed) The Geology of Egypt. Balkema, Rotterdam, pp 451–486Google Scholar
  49. Salem R (1976) Evolution of Eocene—Miocene sedimentation patterns in parts of northern Egypt. Amer Assoc Petrol Geol Bull 60:34–64Google Scholar
  50. Stokes S, Goudie A, Ballard J, Gifford C, Sameih S, Embabi N, El-Rashidi O (1999) Accurate dune displacement and morphometric data using kinematic GPS. Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie N E, Suppl.-Bd. 116, Aeolian Geomorphology, Papers from the 4th International Conference on Aeolian Research, Oxford, 1998Google Scholar
  51. Sultan M, Struchio N, Hassan F, Hamdan M, Mahmoud A, El-Alfy Z, Stien T (1997) Precipitation source inferred from stable isotopic composition of Pleistocene groundwater & carbonate deposits in the Western Desert of Egypt. Quatern Res 48:29–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sweezy C (2001) Eolian sediment responses to late Quaternary climate changes: temporal and spatial patterns in the Sahara. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol 167:119–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Szabo B, Haynes C, Maxwell T (1995) Age of Quaternary pluvial episodes determined by uranium-series and radiocarbon dating of lacustrine deposits of Eastern Sahara. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology and Palaeoecology 113:227–242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Thomas D (1997) Sand seas and aeolian bedforms. In: Thomas D (ed) Arid Zone Geomorphology: Processes, Form and Change in Drylands, 2nd edn. John Wiley, Chichester, pp 413–412Google Scholar
  55. UNESCO (1977) World Distribution of Arid Regions. ParisGoogle Scholar
  56. Wendorf F, Schild R, Close A, Associates (1993) Egypt during the last interglacial: The Middle Palaeolithic of Bir Tarfawi and Bir Sahara East. Plenium Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  57. Wilson I (1973) Ergs. Sedimentary Geology. 10:77–71Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography, Faculty of ArtsAin Shams UniversityCairoEgypt

Personalised recommendations