Geomorphological characteristics of the Um-Rimam depression in northern Kuwait


  • Modi Ahmed Coastal and Air Pollution Department, Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, P.O. Box: 24558 Safat 13109, Kuwait
  • Ali M. Al-Dousari Coastal and Air Pollution Department, Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, P.O. Box: 24558 Safat 13109, Kuwait


Artificial Lake, Um-Rimam depression, playa, geomorphological



Um-Rimam depression is one of the largest depressions in Kuwait. It is about 16.5 km2 and located in northern Kuwait. It consists of a northern and southern playa whose floors cover 0.39 and 0.72 km2 at 50 m and 60 m above sea level, respectively. The two playas are separated by a narrow zone (250 m in width) called the neck area. The depression is developed on alluvial sediments classified under Kuwait Group (Oligo-Pleistocene). The main geomorphological features of the study area are wadis, playas and yardangs. 73 wadis (11 major and 62 minor wadis) were observed in the field with variable orientations. The depression is a mere erosional feature, because no indications of a tectonic origin have been found in the study area. The depression has a variety of surface sediments such as pebbly sheets, active sand sheets, wadi fill deposits, alluvial fans, falling dunes, and nabkha deposits around shrub (Haloxylon salicornicum and Lycium shawii). The surface sediments in the Um-Rimam depression are sandy, poorly sorted, positively skewed and very platykurtic. The amount of aeolian deposits (sand and dust) is low in the study area compared to the average deposited aeolian particles in surrounding areas within Kuwait, but the annual amount of sand trapped in the northern playa (31 kg.yr-1) is higher than the southern playa. The proposed artificial lakes in the depression might be good for improving the vegetation cover and wildlife, but an environmental impact assessment study should be prepared.




Al-Asfour, T. 1982. Changing sea-level along the north coast of Kuwait Bay. Kegan Paul International, London. Pp. xv+186

Al-Dousari, A. M., Al-Elaj, M., Al-Enezi, E. & Al-Shareeda, A. 2009. Origin and characteristics of yardangs in the Um Al-Rimam depressions (N Kuwait). Geomorphology 104: 93-104.

Al-Nassar, W., Alhajraf, S., Al-Enezi, A. & Al-Awadhi, L. 2005. Potential wind power generation in the state of Kuwait. Renewable Energy 30: 249-2161.

Al-Sulaimi, J. S. & El-Rabaa, S. M. 1994. Morphological and morpho-structural features of Kuwait. Geomorphology 11: 151-167.

Chapman, R. W. 1974. Calcareous duricrust in Al-Hassa, Saudi Arabia. Geological Society of America Bulletin 85: 119-130.

Cole, K., McCorriston, J. & Miller, A. 2001. The vegetation and climate history of southern Yemen. Abstract with programs, 86 Annual Meeting, Ecological Society of America, Washington DC, Scientific program, pp.86.

Cooke, R., Warren, A. & Goudie, A. 1993. Desert geomorphology. Butler and Tanner press, London, pp. 203.

El-Sayed, M. I. 1994. Evolution of landforms in the southern part of Kuwait. Journal of Arid Environments 26: 113-128.

Kellio, A. A. 1990. Geomorphological study of the Um Al-Rimam depressions in Kuwait. Kuwait Geographical society, Geography department, Kuwait University, pp. 138.

Le Houérou, H. N. 1998. Global climatic changes and desertification threats. In: Omar, S.A., Misak, R., Al-Ajmi, D. (Eds.), Sustainable development in arid zones. Balkema, Rotterdam, 1: 3-17.

Milton, D. I. 1965. Geology of Arabian Peninsula, Kuwait. U.S. Geological Survey. Professional Paper, pp 560-F.7.

Omar, S., Misak, R., Roy, W. & Alfares, A. 2008. Sabah Alahmed National Reserve, natural characteristics and environmental resources. Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, Kuwait, pp. 93.

Shaw, P. A. & Bryant, R. G. 2011. Pans playas and salt lakes. In: Thomas, D. (Ed.), Arid zone geomorphology: process, form and change in drylands. (3rd edition) Chapter 15. John Wiley and Sons, Chichester.






Earth & Environment