Qattara Depression(A guide)

In this article, we will discuss what the Qattara depression is, its ecology, climate, history, and Qattara depression project.

Qattara Depression(A guide)

What is the Qattara Depression?

Qattara Depression is a waterless depression in northwestern Egypt, especially in Matrouh Governorate.

It is considered a part of the Libyan desert (Eastern Saharan). Qattara depression is below sea level; its bottom is covered with salt flats, dunes, and saltmarshes.

The depression extends between 28° 35′ and 30° 25′ north latitude and 26° 20′ and 29° 02′ east longitude.

From the north and west, Qattara depression is framed by steep limestone cliffs up to 100 meters high, near the cliffs there are the lowest sections of the depression (133 meters below sea level) occupied by salt marshes.

The Qattara depression was created by the interaction of salt weathering and wind erosion.

Some 20 kilometers west of the depression lies the famous Siwa oases in Egypt and Jaghbub in Libya in smaller but similar depressions.

The depression covers about 19,605 square kilometers (7000-7500 square miles), which is almost equivalent to Lebanon’s double size.

It is the second-lowest point in Africa after the Afar depression.

Qattara depression is not the only geological depression that exists. There are others like, Turpan depression.

Qattara Depression Ecology

Flora:

The permanent flora of Qattara depression is made up of umbrella thorn acacia.

There grow wild palms and Desmostachya bipinnate grassland.  

Fauna:

The typical fauna of depression involves cheetah, gazelles, Cape hare, Egyptian jackal, sand fox, fennec fox, Barbary sheep, scimitar oryx, addax, and bubal hartebeest.

Cheetahs are in the northern, western, and northwestern parts of the Qattara Depression, including isolated, wild oases of Ain AL Qattara and Ain el Ghazala. 

Gazelles are widespread, especially in the southwestern part of the depression, and are a food source for cheetahs.

They are in the parts where are wetlands and soft sands. 

Qattara Depression(A guide)

Climate

The climate in the Qattara depression is arid, with precipitation of 25-50mm in its northern part, and less than 25 mm in its southern part.

The average daily temperature in the summer is 36.2°C, and in the winter is 6.2°C.

The wind mainly blows from the north, reaching the maximum speed in March 11.5m/s, and the minimum in December 3.2m/s.

Every year several days from March to May, khamsin winds blow from the south bringing with them extremely high temperatures, as well as dust and sand.

To understand or find out undegraded energy, Negentropy is conducted.

History

The height of the depression was measured in 1917 by dint of an aneroid barometer by a British army officer who patrolled a light vehicle in the area, who discovered that the Qattara depression location was about 60 meters below sea level.

Subsequently, other measurements showed that a large area located below sea level had some parts deeper than 133m.

During World War II, the depression marks the southern limit of the first and second battles of El Alamein, as it was impassable and impossible for tanks and most other military vehicles because of its specific features, such as the presence of salt lakes, high cliffs, slopes, and FESH-FESH.

The cliffs, in particular, were like an impenetrable wall, preventing the British position from being overloaded.

In 2015, several million landmines were still buried in this zone. Thus, the Axis and Allied Powers built their defenses on the line from the Mediterranean Sea to the Qattara depression.

Those defenses, later known as the Devil’s Gardens, consisted of defensive land mines and barbed wire fences that protected the positions.

While not a single large group entered the depression, several patrols from the German Afrika Corps and the British Long Range Desert Group, who had extensive experience in the desert, ventured to enter into that inhospitable area.

Qattara Depression(A guide)

Qattara Depression Project

The Qattara depression project is a concept for an essential civil construction or hydraulic engineering project in Egypt that competes with the Aswan Dam.

The Qattara depression must be expanded so that it can be flooded. The depression is below sea level and currently is a vast desert.

Connecting the region and the Mediterranean Sea through tunnels and canals, saltwater can get there.

Due to the climate, water will evaporate quickly. When the inflow and evaporation are compensated by water, there will be a continuous flow.

This means that hydropower can be produced. As water evaporates and salt is left, it may form a hypersaline lake or salt tank.

Plans include the construction of a long tunnel or canal with a length of about 55km.

Another plan calls for a 320 km long pipeline at Rosetta fresh water from the Nile feed.

For comparison, the Suez Canal has a length of 193 km. If the inflow of water compensates the evaporation, the lake level can be continuously maintained.

Planned heights are 70, 60, 50, and 20 meters below sea level.

The plans for producing electric power here date back to 1912 and the professor of the geography of Berlin Albrecht Penck.

In 1957, the CIA presented U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, a plan according to which flooding the Qattara depression in the Middle East could bring peace.

According to the CIA, there are four advantages:

  • That would be “exciting and peaceful.”
  • This “will significantly change the climate in the coming years.”
  • This “will provide jobs for Arabs from Palestine during and after construction.”
  • It would be the opinion of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser to draw “on other issues” because “he needs a way to get out of the cutter from the Soviet Union in the future.”

Nowadays, scientists are still studying the feasibility of the project to solve economic, demographic, and environmental problems in the region.

However, the project has not been implemented yet.

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Qattara Depression(A guide)

The Qattara Depression Project – Futility Closet

Recommended books and sources

  1. Sequence Stratigraphy of the Lower Miocene Moghra Formation in the Qattara Depression, North Western Desert, Egypt (Springer Briefs in Earth Sciences)
  2. Upper Palaeozoic Stratigraphic Evolution and Sea-Level Change: Examples: Western Side of the Gulf of Suez, Egypt
  3. Egypt, the Land (Lands, Peoples & Cultures)
  4. Qattara Depression Project: Time to Revisit?
  5. HFNE “Danakil Depression”
  6. HFNE “Treatment-Resistant Depression”

FAQs about the topic “Qattara Depression.”

What caused the Qattara Depression?

The Qattara depression was created by the interaction of salt weathering and wind erosion.

Some 20 kilometers west of the depression lies the famous Siwa oases in Egypt and Jaghbub in Libya in smaller but similar depressions.

When did the Qattara Depression sinkhole happen?

Qattara depression sinkhole was formed over a million years, as the salts in the soil eroded the rock into sand, which was then blown away by furious Saharan winds.

Is the Qattara Depression a sinkhole?

The Qattara Depression is a sinkhole, which was formed during the Neogene Period; the salts in the soil eroded the rock into sand, which was then blown away by furious Saharan winds.

How deep is the Qattara Depression?

Qattara Depression is 133m below sea level.

It is the second-lowest point in Africa after the Afar Depression.

Some measurements showed that a large area located below sea level had some parts deeper than 133m.

Where is the lowest place on earth?

The lowest place on earth is the Dead Sea.

The shores of the Dead Sea are more than 400 m below sea level.

It is a salt lake between Israel, Jordan and the West Bank of lake Jordan. 

How big is the Qattara Depression?

The Qattara Depression covers about 19,605 square kilometers (7000-7500 square miles), which is almost equivalent to Lebanon’s double size.

Conclusion

Qattara Depression is a waterless depression in northwestern Egypt, especially in Matrouh Governorate.

It is considered a part of the Libyan desert (Eastern Saharan). Qattara depression is below sea level; its bottom is covered with salt flats, dunes, and saltmarshes.

The depression was created by the interaction of salt weathering and wind erosion.

It is the second-lowest point in Africa after the Afar depression.

The Qattara Depression project is a concept for an essential civil construction or hydraulic engineering project in Egypt that competes with the Aswan Dam.

Nowadays, scientists are still studying the feasibility of the project to solve economic, demographic, and environmental problems in the region.

However, the project has not been implemented yet.

Please feel free to comment on the content or ask any questions in the comments section below.

References

  1. Claude C. Albritton, Jr.; James E. Brooks; Bahay Issawi; Ahmed Swedan – GSA Bulletin (1990) 102 (7): 952-960.
  2. Qattara Depression
  3. Qattara Depression Project

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