J. Pint, Mahmoud A. Al-shanti, AbdulrahmanJ.
Al-Juaid and Saeed A. Al-Amoudi
development of some Saudi Arabian caves into tourist sites (show caves) would
permit Saudi and other visitors to learn first-hand about a little-known part of
their natural heritage and would facilitate cave access for scientists of many
disciplines. This report studies two caves with tourism potential situated in
the As Sulb Plateau, approximately 200 km NNE of Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia, at the contact between Miocene calcareous clastic rocks and the
Paleocene-Early Eocene Umm er Radhuma formation.
Kahf Al Rutuwbah, also known as Gecko Cave, is 203 m long with passage
and room widths varying from 50 cm to 17 m and the cave height ranging from 66
cm to 4.97, but usually under 1.5 m. The temperature 28 m inside the cave is 25°
C and humidity is 66%. At a distance of 115 m from the entrance, the temperature
drops to 21° while the humidity rises to 97%. The floor of the cave is mostly
covered with loose quartz sand introduced from the surface. The walls and
ceilings exhibit white or iron-stained stalactites, soda straws, draperies,
cauliflower structures and flowstone. White, powdery gypsum deposits and flaky
calcite lace were also observed. Because of the abundance of touristically
attractive formations and the apparent lack of dangerous features, a 113 m
section of this cave was judged to have good potential for adventure tourism,
that is, suitable for people willing and able to crawl on soft sand under low
ceilings. The farthest part of the cave was deemed unsuitable for tourism due to
its high humidity.
section of B32 cave was also surveyed, described and evaluated for tourism
potential. This cave was named and explored by Austrian and KFUPM speleologists
in the 1980’s and photographs were published showing aesthetically pleasing
speleothems. The portion of the cave surveyed by SGS is 92 m long with passage
and room widths varying from 1 m to 10.3 m and the cave height ranging from 70
cm to 5.4 m, requiring little crawling and minimal climbing. The temperature is
21° with a humidity of 70%. The floor is mostly covered with breakdown in the
form of brittle, haphazardly piled slabs of limestone up to 5 m in length. Some
parts of the cave have stalactites, stalagmites and draperies from 5 to 70 cm
long. Helictites are also found.
Because the heaped-up breakdown can easily fracture under human weight, plunging
a visitor into openings below, the surveyed passages of this cave were judged
unsuitable for tourism.