Coastal and inland sabkhas of Saudi Arabia are primarily quartzose clastic sabkhas. In some cases they have developed on older aeolian dunes now submerged beneath the present-day water table. Models of early cementation of ancient sabkha deposits frequently called for precipitation of carbonates and sulfates from sea water by evaporative pumping: the inflow of sea water through the sabkha to replace pore water evaporated at the sabkha surface. The landward extent of the sea-water influence was usually not addressed. Pore water samples collected along transects from the sea, coastal sabkhas and inter-dunal sabkhas, more than 100 km inland, were analyzed to determine the extent of sea-water influence. Included in this study are pore waters from Sabkha<br>Matti, one of the largest sabkhas in the world. Stable isotopes, ion chemistry and strontium-isotope composition of these sabkha waters indicated that the influence of marine water is limited to a narrow zone within a few kilometers of the coast. Landward of this narrow band, meteoric water appears to be the sole source of sabkha pore waters and is a significant component in some coastal salt pans. Even in the present-day low-lying, hyperarid desert of southern Saudi Arabia, the water table rises inland and the hydraulic head tends to drive meteoric water seaward preventing incursion of marine water into sabkhas except in a narrow band very near the sea. Results of this study have implications for interpreting early cements in ancient desert sediments like the Permian-Carboniferous Unayzah of Saudi Arabia.


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