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Wathba Fossil Dunes

A cache by RandomGoat Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 09/23/2016
1.5 out of 5
2.5 out of 5

Size: Size:   other (other)

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Geocache Description:

An Earthcache located near Al Wathba Wetland Reserve. A four wheel drive can make it all the way to this fantastic spot. Careful and confident drivers of two wheel vehicles can possibly make it part way down the compacted sand track, but would probably best parking on the road side at the top of the track (see waypoint for the track) and walking to the cache (just under a mile each way).


As with all Earthcaches, there is no physical container at GZ. To claim this as a find please answer the questions at the end of the page.

This location has a number of 'fossil dunes' considered so impressive they once made it onto the cover for 'Abu Dhabi World', the weekly free magazine published in the city. Indeed, it was this cover that inspired me to visit this area and publish this Earthcache. (

Sand dune formation is controlled by a combination of wind strength and direction, and sediment supply. In detail, however, the formation of dune patterns remains poorly understood. Within a given area the dune pattern may be quite regular, but also intricate. Physical features are typically created on several different scales – giant sand ridges on a scale of hundreds of metres to a few kilometres, sand dunes measured in metres to tens of metres, and ripples on a scale of centimetres to a metre or more. This hierarchy can be readily observed in the deserts of the UAE.

Since dune patterns vary with wind direction, seasonal or occasional variations in wind direction introduce new elements into the overall pattern. These elements may reinforce or cancel each other, in the same manner as ocean waves. In addition, because sand dunes cannot move or change as quickly as ocean waves, past history may play a significant part in what we see today. Despite relatively consistent prevailing wind directions in the present day UAE, dune patterns and alignment vary considerably from area to area.

In addition to changes in wind regime, the UAE deserts have experienced changes in rainfall at various times in the past. This is indicated by the widespread occurrence of outcrops of lightly cemented, cross-bedded dune sands. These were cemented by the precipitation of calcium carbonate and other salts from ground water at a time when the water table was higher than it is today.

To claim this Earthcache please answer the following questions by either email or message to the cache owner:

1) Pick one of the many fossil sand dunes and estimate its height and width.
2) Describe the fossil sand dune and any cross-bedding you see. How is cross-bedding in a sand dune produced?
3) What does the cross-bedding tell you about the wind when the sand dune was formed?
4) What caused the sand dune to harden and what caused it to take its current shape/form?
5) Find something else of interest in the area - for example I found the remains of camels and goats, and also a perfectly formed circle in a sand dune (feel free to use these examples!)

(OPTIONAL - NOT A LOGGING REQUIREMENT) If you can, take and upload two photographs - one of you/your GPS at the location, and one of any of the many fossil dunes. Additional photographs always welcome!

Please log your cache as soon as you email/message me - no need to wait for approval. Please don't worry if you don't think you have the correct answers, just do your best! :)

One last note - please don't touch or disturb the sand dunes and don't be tempted to place a physical cache container here! I wouldn't like these fantastic and beautiful ancient dunes to get damaged. Thanks!

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

Qba'g jbeel vs lbh qba'g xabj na nafjre - whfg tvir lbhe orfg thrff!

Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)