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Paleodrainages of the Eastern Sahara-The Radar Rivers Revisited (SIR-A/B Implications for a Mid-Tertiary Trans-Afnrcan Drainage System)

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8 Author(s)
Mccauley, J.F. ; U. S. Geological Survey, Flagstaff, AZ 86001 ; Breed, C.S. ; Schaber, Gerald G. ; Mchugh, W.P.
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A complex history of Cenozoic fluvial activity in the presently hyperarid Eastern Sahara is inferred from SIR data and postflight field investigations in southwest Egypt and northwest Sudan. SIR images were coregistered with Landsat and existing maps as a guide to exploration of the buried paleodrainages (radar rivers) first discovered by SIR-A. Field observations explain the radar responses of three types of radar rivers, RR-1, RR-2, and RR-3. RR-1 (broad, aggraded valleys or basins filled with alluvium) generally give a dark response relative to the surrounding radar-bright tone of the wind-roughened, discontinuously sand-covered bedrock of the remnant interfluves. The alluvial fill in some of the RR-1 valleys gives a locally intermediate to bright response where cemented by diagenetic CaCO3 (caliche). The RR-2 type (braided channels inset in the RR-1 valleys) are filled with noncalichified, loose sediment, and are visible on SIR because of the "caliche effect"-the dark response of unconsolidated alluvium in the inset channels contrasts with the brighter response of calichified alluvium in the broad valleys. The third type, RR-3 (narrow, long, bedrock-incised channels), which are partly visible on the ground and on Landsat in areas where the sand sheet is patchy, are conspicuous on SIR because the dark response of their unconsolidated channel fill contrasts with the brighter response of the surrounding bedrock. Disconformably overlying and concealing the RR-1 valleys, the RR- 2 channels, and parts of the RR-3 channels are eolian sand-sheetsheet de- deposits, which in turn are locally overridden by trains of barchan dunes.

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Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:GE-24 ,  Issue: 4 )