At least potentially karstifiable rocks cover much of the surface of Egypt and northern Libya. Study of caves and other karstic features of this region has been hampered by lack of roads, rapid disintegration of the surface of friable, poorly consolidated limestone, wind-blown sand and other factors. Interbedding with marly aquicludes hampers speleogenesis locally. Calcareous and evaporite karsts are present, however, and their waters are important albeit generally limited resources. Large quantities of fresh water are lost through submarine springs downslope from Libya’s Gebel al Akhdar range; the caves and karst of that range may be among the world’s greatest. A recent attempted compendium of caves and karsts of Egypt and Libya contains several important errors; the supposed 5+ km Ain Zayanah Cave does not exist and the Zayanah System includes several smaller caves. The Bir al Ghanam gypsum karst of northwest Libya, however, has caves up to 3.5 km long. In Egypt, the Mokattam, South Galala, Ma’aza, Siwa and Western Desert karsts and the “White Desert” chalk karst of Farafra Depression are especially important. Qattara and nearby depressions may be karstic rather than structural in origin. Unique Wadi Sannur Cave is the world’s largest gour and a potential World Heritage site. Little known sandstone karsts or pseudokarsts in southwestern Egypt may contain analogues of features recently identified on Mars. The well-publicised Uweinat caves of northwestern Sudan are talus caves.
Halliday, William R..
Caves and karsts of Northeast Africa.
International Journal of Speleology,
Available at: http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/ijs/vol32/iss1/2