The Spatial Distribution Pattern of Surficial Sediment in Shiab Al-Kabeer, a Shoal in the Red Sea of Saudi Arabia

  • Najeeb M. A. RasulEmail author
  • Abdulnasser S. Al-Qutub


A unique feature commonly referred to as a ‘shoal’, called Shiab Al-Kabeer, is located in the Red Sea offshore from Saudi Arabia. It is made up mainly of live and dead corals with over 90% calcium carbonate material largely contributed by the corals. Aeolian quartz from the adjacent deserts and fluvial material derived from numerous wadis during flood discharge make up a small part of the sediment veneer. The shoal is inhabited by various fauna and flora exclusive to the Red Sea. Bio-eroders such as grazers, borers and burrowers, especially some species of fish like parrotfish and shrimp-gobies, create cavities and holes in the shoal area, and generate new sediment by excavating the cavities, forming mounds on the sea bed. Apart from being an excellent ground for spawning, the shoal is also used for overnight dwelling by picnickers, as an anchorage for small boats, as a nesting ground for seabirds, and is an attractive site for marine tourism (SCUBA diving). The shoal undergoes a degree of stress either through human activities or natural processes. However, the clear and uncontaminated water keeps the sub-environment of the shoal healthy, although minor irreversible processes caused by contamination might be of some concern. Some coral debris, molluscs, and foraminiferal sand are stained black, because of precipitation of free pyrite in a reducing environment caused by weak currents and quiescent conditions, in the presence of plant and organic debris, mainly algae and sea-grass. The dynamics and shape of the shoal are controlled primarily by water currents generated either by wind or by tidal cycles, breaking waves and physical factors related to human activities.



We wish to thank the Saudi Geological Survey for giving us the opportunity to use the data that were generated under the technical work program, and data used in a Master’s thesis. We would also like to express our thanks to Dr. Marco Taviani and Dr. Ramadan Abu-Zeid in helping us in the identification of biogenic components. We also wish to extend our thanks to Drs. G. Owen, J. Coakley, N. Hashimi, G. Bailey, A. Khalik and A. Rushdi for reviewing the chapter. Many discussions with Dr. I. Stewart and his comments helped us tremendously in compiling this research. Louiesito Abalos is thanked for helping us in formatting the chapter. Special thanks to all the members of the Center for Marine Geology and colleagues at Saudi Geological Survey for helping us in the field and laboratory work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Najeeb M. A. Rasul
    • 1
    Email author
  • Abdulnasser S. Al-Qutub
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Marine Geology, Saudi Geological SurveyJeddahSaudi Arabia

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