The Great Sand Sea
January 21, 2020
I am shocked as I view the exposed ancient seabed in Great Sand Sea.
The rock formations are identical to the Boszhira Valley of Kazakhstan that lies 2500 miles (4000 km) to the east!
Thirty-four million years ago, the large shallow inland Paratethys Sea stretched from the region of the Alps in Europe to Central Europe to the Aral Sea in Central Asia. At times during its long existence, the Paratethys connected with the Tethys Ocean to the south so that the same waters also covered eastern North Africa.
The waters receded and left behind the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Aral Sea, and several large lakes in Iran.
As I look down into a valley in the Great Sand Sea, I recall similar formations in western Kazakhstan in the Boszhira Valley on the Mangystau Peninsula. The Mangystau Peninsula protrudes into the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea.
The Great Sand Sea is the appropriate name for this remarkable site. It sweeps 400 miles (650 km) from north to south, and 185 miles (300 km) from east to west, from western Egypt to eastern Libya.
Windblown shifting waves of sand produce mountains and valleys and crevasses that surely are the envy of any other desert scenery.
Only 74% of the desert is covered with sand, so we stop for a cup of tea at the Bir Wahed Protected Area - a defiant little oasis in the embrace of this extraordinary natural wonder - the Great Sand Sea.