Where Did the Sand in the Sahara Desert Come From?

Scientists used to believe that the sand in the Sahara Desert was left there by sea water that once covered the area.

It is true that much of the Sahara was covered with water more than 100 million years ago. But we now know that the Sahara’s sand is much newer than that.

The Sahara’s sand is actually all that is left of soil that lost its moisture. The Sahara area was much wetter about a million years ago, with rivers, trees, and grass. But when the Ice Age ended about a half- million years ago, the climate in the Sahara grew hotter and drier.

The soil gradually dried out and was eroded by the wind. The large amounts of oil found in parts of the Sahara prove that the area was once inhabited by many plants and animals.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

3 thoughts on “Where Did the Sand in the Sahara Desert Come From?”

  1. I worked in Marsa el Brega in the 90’s, I travelled as far as Zelton, about 150km from the Med. During my time there I was privileged to be able to travel into the desert. There I discovered huge areas of petrified wood as far as the eye could see. What amazed me was that mixed with the wood was outcroppings of the remains coral and other sea creatures. One of the things I dug up was a sand dollar, incredible as it may seem, it is almost identical to the sand dollar found on the beach today. I have read many articles about the time line of the Sahara, none of which gives a realistic time frame. It is obvious to anyone who seen this to realize that the Sahara was once a thriving forest, the ocean then inundated the forest for what must have been millions of years to turn the wood to solid stone. There can be no other explanation as the desert is so saline that it could never have supported the growth of trees that I have seen. If anyone reading this has a true (as far as science can prove) time line of the Sahara, I would love to know.
    My email address is: [email protected]
    Thank you.

  2. The Sahara sand is not dried out soil. It is quartz grains. The origin of the quartz is granite that once formed a much higher than today Atlas mountain range in northern Africa. Granite is composed of quartz, mica, and feldspar. The mica and felspar minerals are relatively weak compared to quartz. Eventually they disolve, form clays, and are washed or blown away leaving the quartz behind. That’s what you see today.

  3. What we should be concerned with is where did the oceans go? Are they the same oceans as the ones we have now? How did they move? Can they come back to where they once were? My guess is that a physical pole shift occured and shifted everything around the planet. Could it happen again? Yes, of course. I highly believe that pole shifting is a cycle that is just a natural event that happens on Earth. Who knows when they happen, how long they happen for, and why they happen. Don’t say that pole shift is impossible because then you have to realise why global warming and ice ages happen. They are all cataclysmic events that do happen, but pole shifting being the worse because it causes nearly every natural disaster imaginable.

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