Calculation of the Rub’ al Khali Sand Dune Volume for Estimating Potential Sand Sources


The Rub’ al Khali desert (or Empty Quarter) is the largest and perhaps most significant sand sea in the world. Located on the southern Arabian Peninsula, the dune field has remained largely unexplored owing to the harsh clime and difficult terrain. This study takes advantage of geospatial technology (interpolations, supervised classification, minimum focal statistic) to extract information from the data contained in global Digital Elevation Model (DEM)s, satellite imagery. The main objective here is to identify and map different dune forms within the sand sea, estimate the volume of sand and explore probable sources of sand. The analysis of dune color strongly suggests that the sand is not completely reworked and intermixed. If this is true, a spatial variability map of the mineral composition of the sand could be very revealing. The red sand is quite pronounced, the largest volume of sand (~36%) is associated with the yellow color class. Yellow sand covers most of the western part of the dunes field and seems to be a transitional color between red and white sand in the eastern part of the dune field. This suggests that the yellow sand might be derived from both local and regional sources, or it might be less oxidized, reworked, or have a different composition that represents a combination of red and white sand.


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DEM, Dune, Rub’ al Khali, Sand, Sand sources, Volume, Wadi


Almutlaq, F., Nahas, F., & Mulligan, K.. 2022. Calculation of the Rub’ al Khali Sand Dune Volume for Estimating Potential Sand Sources. Remote Sensing, 14(5).