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The "Unnamed Plateau"

A low plateau lies about half way between the southern Gilf Kebir and Jebel Uweinat. It is entirely within Egyptian territory, very close to the Libyan border, and aside a brief survey by Almásy and Clayton in 1932, apparently nobody bothered to take a good look, it does not even have a name. It is made up entirely of igneous rocks, granites and granitoids, contrary to the paleozoic sandstones shown on the official geological maps of the area.

It is uncertain, whether the granites making up the plateau are related to the young granitic intrusions of the Arkenu - Uweinat area, or are part of the much older precambrian basement, outcrops of which may be observed along the southern side of Jebel Uweinat. This will have to await proper studies, however the very high degree of erosion observed everywhere on the plateau seems to point towards the latter. In most places around it's perimeter, large areas of the plateau have been reduced to the level of the surrounding plain, with no clearly recognisable drainage lines. There is a single major wadi system that drains the largest part of the plateau towards the east, but even here the valleys are very broad and flat. No sedimentary rocks were found capping the plateau (or in the wadi bed) at any of the locations visited by us, however satelite imagery suggests that there may still be some small patches of sediment covering the higher levels of the plateau in the vicinity of it's high point, a volcanic hill of probably tertiary age.

There is meaningful vegetation only in the main valley, but even there very limited. A cluster of dome shaped Acacia ehrenbergiana survive in the middle of the watercourse, and there is evidence of brief rain fed vegetation cycles in the valley, but the vast majority of the plateau is very dry.

Traces of prehistoric human habitation have been noted already by Clayton in the form of stone circles on the plateau top, and in March 2002 we have found a very crude engraving of a cattle in the main wadi.

The vast majority of the plateau remains unexplored, future visits will surely reveal further geological and possibly archaeological finds in this very inhospitable, but nevertheless complex and interesting area.