Spatio-temporal Evolution of Coastal Sabkhas in Arid Rapid Urban Development Area of Kuwait

Adeeba Al-Hurban(1), Jasem A Albanai(2*)

(1) Earth & Environmental Sciences Dept., Faculty of Science, Kuwait University, Kuwait
(2) Marine Monitoring Section, Water Quality Monitoring Department, Environmental Public Authority, Kuwait and Department of Mathematics and Geosciences, University of Trieste, Italy
(*) Corresponding Author


Sabkha is the Arabic term meaning "salt flat". It is usually used to describe coastal flat areas extending above the high tide level and which are evaporate-rich clastic sediments. In Kuwait, sabkhas exist along the southern and northern coastal areas. Previous studies did not discuss the chronological changes of the coastal sabkhas in Kuwait, especially the northern sabkhas, where the Government of the State of Kuwait plans urban expansion to the North to achieve Kuwait Vision 2035. This current study aims to detect the geomorphological, spatial, and temporal evolution of coastal sabkhas in Kuwait using remote sensing data and Geographic Information System (GIS) methods. Landsat satellite images were used to study the distribution and evolution of the sabkhas across Kuwait's coasts. The selected images from Landsat MSS 1985 (before the gulf war), Landsat ETM+ 2002 (after the war), and Landsat OLI 2022 (current form) have been classified using the IsoData unsupervised classification method that takes into account near and short infrared radiation. The classification accuracy was validated for 2022 images using the Kappa coefficient, where the value was 0.81. The results showed that sabkhas in Kuwait have changed geomorphologically; anthropogenic activities and urban expansion have certainly influenced this change to cope with socioeconomic demands.The area of the sabkhas shrank from 1,267 to 1,019 km2 (-17%). The results also showed that the southern sabkhas of Kuwait are declining significantly, from 207km2 in 1985 to 52km2 in 2022. The current study presents a methodology to study the spatio-temporal evolution of sabkhas in dry areas around the world, using spatial analysis and in the context of the rapid urban development that the world is witnessing.



Quaternary Deposits; Desert Geomorphology; GIS; Remote Sensing; Sabkhas

Full Text:



Al-Ajmi, J. A. S. (2008). Sabkhas of the Northern Coast of Kuwait "A Geomorphological Study." Center For Research and Studies on Kuwait.

Al-Asfour, T. A., (1978). The marine terraces of the Bay of Kuwait. In: Brice, W.C. (Ed.), The environmental history of the near and middle east since the last ice age, pp. 249-260. Academic Press, Inc: London Ltd.

Albanai, J. A. (2019). A GIS Science Simulation for the Expected Sea Level Rise Scenarios on Failka Island in The State of Kuwait (1st ed.). Center For Research and Studies on Kuwait.

Albanai, J. A. (2021). Seawater quality atlas of the state of Kuwait (1st ed.). Center For Research and Studies on Kuwait.

Albanai, J. A.(2021a). Coastal Atlas of The State of Kuwait: Geomorphology from Space and Atmosphere. Kuwait Foundation For The Advancement Of Science.

Albanai, J. A. (2021b). Mapping Kuwait bathymetry using passive multispectral remote sensing. Kuwait Journal of Science, 48(4), 1–10.

Albanai, J. A. (2021c). Seasonal Spatial and Temporal Distribution of Chlorophyll-a Concentration over Kuwait and the Arabian Gulf using Satellite and In-Situ data.

Albanai, J. A. (2021d). Spatial Distribution of Kuwait Coastal Geomorphological Features using Remote Sensing Methods and GIS Solutions. Journal of Social Sciences, 49(3).

Albanai, J. A. (2021e). Trend and dynamic of the chlorophyll-a concentration over the Arabian Gulf A long-term study using MODIS data (2004-2019). Journal of Engineering Research.

Albanai, J. A. (2022). Accuracy assessment for Landsat 8 thermal bands in measuring sea surface temperature over Kuwait and North West Arabian Gulf. Kuwait Journal of Science, 49(1).

Albugami, S., Palmer, S., Meersmans, J., & Waine, T. (2018). Evaluating MODIS dust-detection indices over the Arabian Peninsula. Remote Sensing, 10(12).

Al-Dalama, A. and Al-Hurban, A., (2019). The impact of urbanization expansion on the geomorphology of the southern coastal sabkhas from Ras Al-Jailiaha to Al-Khiran, South Kuwait. Journal of Geographic Information Systems, Vol. 11, No. 5: 609-632, Scientific Research Publishing, DOI: 10.4236/jgis.2019.115038

Al-Haroun, Y. A. M. (2019). The phenomenon of apartments in the Kuwaiti house. Journal of Engineering Research (Kuwait), 7(2), 1–24.

Al-Hurban, A., (1996). Recent surface sediments and landforms of the southern area of Kuwait. Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham, 317pp.

Al-Hurban, A. & Gharib, I., (2003). Morphological, sedimentological, and hydrogeochemical studies of sabkhas in southern Kuwait. Suppl. Geografia Fisica e. Dinamica Quaternaria Journal, VI, 13-18.

Al-Hurban, A., & Gharib, I., (2004). Geomorphological and Sedimentological characteristics of coastal & inland sabkhas, southern Kuwait. Journal of Arid Environment, Vol. 58, Issue 1, 59-85.

Al-Hurban, A., (2004). Sabkha. In Encyclopedia of Geomorphology. Ed. Goudie, A., Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, pp. 1156.

Al-Hurban, A., (2014). Effects of recent anthropogenic activities on the surface deposits of Kuwait. Arab J Geosci, 7, 665–691.

Al-Sarawi, M. A., Al-Zamel, A., and Al-Rifaiy, I., (1993). Late Pleistocene and Holocene sediments of the Khiran area (South Kuwait). Journal of University of Kuwait (Science) 20, 145-156.

Al-Sulaimi, J. S. and El-Rabaa, S. M., (1994). Morphological and morphostructural features of Kuwait. Geomorphology, 11, 151-167.

Al-Zamel, A. Z., (1983). Geology and oceanography of recent sediments of Jazirat Bubiyan ad Ras As-Sabiyah, Kuwait, Arabian Gulf. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis. University of Sheffield, Sheffield, pp 273-274.

Al-Zamel, A. Z., and Al-Sarawi, M., (1998). Late quaternary sabkha sedimentation along Kathma Bay coast, Kuwait, Arabian Gulf. Arab Gulf Journal for Scientific Research, 16 (3), pp. 471-495.

Baird, T., Bristow, C. S., & Vermeesch, P. (2019). Measuring sand dune migration rates with COSI-Corr and Landsat: Opportunities and challenges. Remote Sensing, 11(20).

Biere, P. R., (2000). Playa, playa lake, sabkha: Proposed definitions for old terms, Journal of Arid Environments 45: 1-7.

Butler, G. P., Harris, P. P., and Kendall, C. G. St. C., (1982). Recent evaprites from the Abu Dhabi coastal flats, in Depositional and diagenetic spectra of evaporites. A core workshop: SEPM Core Workshop 3, Calgary, p. 33-64.

Chavez Jr., P. S., MacKinnon, D., Reynolds, R. L., & Velasco, M. G. (2002). Monitoring dust storms and mapping landscape vulnerability to wind erosion using satellite and ground-based digital images. Arid Lands Newsletter.

Evans, G., Schmidt, V., Bush, P. and Nelson, H., (1969). Stratigraphy and geologic history of the sabkha, Abu Dhabi, Persian Gulf. Sedimentology, 12: 145-149.

Folk, R. L., (1974). Petrology of Sedimentary Rocks. Hemphills Publishing Co., Austin, TX, USA, 92pp.

Folk, R. L. and Ward, W., (1957). Brazos river bar, a study in the significance of grain size parameters. Journal of Sedimantary Petrology 27, 3-27

Kassler, P., (1973). The structural and geomorphic evolution of the Persian Gulf. In: Purser, B. H. (Ed.), The Persian Gulf. Springer, New York, pp. 11-32.

Khalaf, F. I., Gahrib, I. M., And Al-Hashash, M. Z., (1984b). Types and characteristics of the recent surface deposits of Kuwait, Arabian Gulf. Journal of Arid Environments 7, 9-33.

Kinsman, D. J. J., (1969). Modes f formation, sedimentary association, and diagenetic features of shallow-water and supratidal evaporites. American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin 53 (4), 830-840.

Kleo, A., Abu-Alaennen, H., Alhusaini, A., & Alasfour, T. (2003). Selected Studies in Geomorphology of Kuwait Lands. Center For Research and Studies on Kuwait.

Kleo, A., (2006). Sabkhas of the northern coast of Kuwait: Distribution, origin, classification, and properties. Kuwait Geographical Society, 318.

Kleo, A. and Al-Otibi, O., (2011). The Sustainable Development of Kuwaiti Sabkha. Digest of Middle East Studies, 20, 27-49.

Livingstone, I., Wiggs, G. F. S., & Weaver, C. M. (2007). Geomorphology of desert sand dunes: A review of recent progress. Earth-Science Reviews, 80(3), 239–257.

Misak, R., Mahfoz, S., & Alasfour, T. (2003). Desert Environment in The State of Kuwait. Center For Research and Studies on Kuwait.

Neal, J. T., (1975). Playa surface features as indicators of environment. In Neal, J. T. (Ed.), Playa and Dried Lakes. pp. 363-380. Benchmark Papers in Geology, Halsted Press.

Omar, S., Missak, R. & Shahid, S. (2002). Sabkhat and Halophytes in Kuwait, Barth and Boer (eds.) Sabkhas Ecosystems. Kluwer Academy pub. Netherlands, pp. 71.81.

Picha, F., (197)8. Depositional and diagenetic history of Pleistocene and Holocene oolitic sediments and sabkhas in Kuwait, Persian Gulf. Sedimentology, 25: 427-450.

Purser, B. H., (1973). The Persian Gulf, Holocene carbonate sedimentation and diagenesis in a shallow epicontinental sea. Springer, Berlin, pp. V-VI.

Reda, A. A., (1986). A Reconnaissance study of a clastic coastal sabkha, Babrab area, northern Kuwait, Arabian Gulf. M. Sc. Thesis in geology, Kuwait University.

Safar M. I., (1985). Dust and duststorms in Kuwait, 1st edn. Directory of General of Civil Aviation Meteorology Department, Kuwait, p 212.

Saleh, A., Al-Ruwaih F., Reda, A., and Gunatilaka, A., (1999). A Reconnaissance study of a clastic coastal sabkha in northern Kuwait, Arabian Gulf. Journal of Arid Environments, 43, 1-19.

Warren, J. K., (1989). Evaporite Sedimentology. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc. 285 pp.


Article Metrics

Abstract views : 294 | views : 264


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2023 Jasem A Albanai

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Accredited Journal, Based on Decree of the Minister of Research, Technology and Higher Education, Republic of Indonesia Number 225/E/KPT/2022, Vol 54 No 1 the Year 2022 - Vol 58 No 2 the Year 2026 (accreditation certificate download)

ISSN 2354-9114 (online), ISSN 0024-9521 (print)