PRELIMINARY SURVEY

FOR CAVES SUITABLE FOR TOURISM

IN THE KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA

 

KAHF AL RUTUWBAH AND B32 CAVE

 

 

By

 

John J. Pint, Mahmoud A. Al-shanti,  AbdulrahmanJ.  Al-Juaid and Saeed A. Al-Amoudi

 

 

ABSTRACT

 

The 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.

 

A 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 1980s 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.

 

 

OPEN-FILE REPORT

SGS-OF-2002-10