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May 25th 2012
Published: May 25th 2012
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The Jabal Al Qarah Caves, located approximately 13 km east of Al Hofuf, Eastern Province of Saudi

Arabia, are an intricate cave system developed in the calcareous sandstone, marl and clay of the Upper

Miocene to Lower Pliocene Hofuf Formation. Physiographically, the hill of Jabal Al Qarah is an outlier

mesa that is located at the eastern edge of the Shedgum Plateau, the southern extension of the As

Summan Plateau, and the larger Syrian Plateau to the north. Based on cave morphology and interpreted

evolutionary history, the Jabal Al Qarah caves appear to be significantly different from other limestone

caves reported in the As Summan Plateau. Jabal Al Qarah is known for its tall, linear cave passages

and narrow canyons. The boxwork of linear passages is better developed here than any other

known cave locations in the Eastern Province. Field observations, including orientations of the escarpment

face of the Shedgum Plateau, joints, and fractures, coupled with a review of the tectonic history of

the region, suggest that these caves resulted from erosional enlargement of a series of very deep and narrow

joint-controlled fissures in the Hofuf Formation. Petrographic data, especially an abundance of

well-preserved palygorskite type clay minerals, suggests that the Hofuf Formation was deposited in a

mudflat-dominated coastal plain environment.

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