Scientific Expedition To Explore Empty Quarter
A group of 50 scientists from Saudi Arabia, the United States, Switzerland and Egypt will spend nearly two weeks in the deserts of the Empty Quarter. The Empty Quarter, in Arabic, Ar-rub Al-Khali, is an area of 5,60,000 sq. kms, which accounts for more than a quarter of Saudi Arabia. The scientists will study various features of the region along with its geographic and geological components. Organised by the Saudi Geological Survey (SGS), the 13-day trip will run from Feb. 23 through March 11, 2006. According to an SGS statement, the main purpose of the journey is to stimulate scientific interest in the region. The excursion will provide an overview of aspects of the geology, geography, hydroge-ology, environment, wildlife, tourism potential and known antiquities of the region.
The Empty Quarter, located in the south-east of the Arabian Peninsula, is 1,200 kilometers long and 650 kilometers wide. It is among the largest continuous deserts in the world with a total area of 6,50,000 sq.kms. About 80 per cent of this is in the Kingdom. Its eastern edges extend into the United Arab Emirates, and its southern margin is in the Sultanate of Oman. Parts of its southern and southwestern limits are also in the Republic of Yemen. The scientists will make field investigations and will visit important natural features of the region, including the meteorite crater at Hadeedah, the antiquities and ancient wells near Kharkheer and other historical places. The scientists will take samples, document their observations, present a summary of their findings and propose future work, the SGS said. One of the goals of the SGS is to inform the world about this vast and unique part of the Kingdom and the results of the tour will be widely published.