Developing a framework of Quaternary dune accumulation in the northern Rub' al-Khali, Arabia

Andrew R. Farrant*, Geoff A T Duller, Adrian G. Parker, H. M. Roberts, Ash Parton, Robert W O Knox, Thomas Bide

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Located at the crossroads between Africa and Eurasia, Arabia occupies a pivotal position for human migration and dispersal during the Late Pleistocene. Deducing the timing of humid and arid phases is critical to understanding when the Rub' al-Khali desert acted as a barrier to human movement and settlement. Recent geological mapping in the northern part of the Rub' al-Khali has enabled the Quaternary history of the region to be put into a regional stratigraphical framework. In addition to the active dunes, two significant palaeodune sequences have been identified. Dating of key sections has enabled a chronology of dune accretion and stabilisation to be determined. In addition, previously published optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dates have been put in their proper stratigraphical context, from which a record of Late Pleistocene dune activity can be constructed. The results indicate the record of dune activity in the northern Rub' al-Khali is preservation limited and is synchronous with humid events driven by the incursion of the Indian Ocean monsoon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-144
Number of pages13
JournalQuaternary International
Early online date25 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sept 2015


  • Arabia
  • Dunes
  • Monsoon
  • OSL dating
  • Palaeoclimate
  • United Arab Emirates


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