Last Updated on February 23, 2024

Rocky deserts, also known as hamadas, are vast areas covered with rocks, which have been stripped of all debris due to wind erosion.

Pebbly deserts, referred to as serir or reg, originate from ancient alluvial deposits. Over time, the wind has carried away the finer debris, leaving only pebbles behind.”

The desert landscape can take on different aspects depending on the prevailing erosion and deposition processes.

The name “hamada” (or “hammada”) comes from Arabic and means “rock”, and it is used to describe a desert region that is dominated by rocky terrain and a lack of soil.

Hamada rocky desert near Taghit, Algeria
Hamada rocky desert near Taghit, Algeria

Characteristics

The hamada has higher temperature ranges than any other desert types, while common to all is the rapidity of the soil in changing from cold to hot as the sun appears and disappears.

Because of this, rocky deserts mostly experience extremely hot temperatures during the day which drop to near-freezing at night.

Vegetation, except for the presence of oasis-generating surface water, consists mainly of shrubs, brushwood and thistles. The hamada is more suitable for the passage of mechanical means of transportation rather than that of animals.

The nature of the hamada leads it to be the least humid of the deserts, making it the most hostile to human life. The soil structure is permeable and water is quickly absorbed.

The most common rocks in the hamada are limestone, sandstone, basalt and crystalline rocks (such as granite and gneiss).


Formation

Overall, the hamada is formed by a combination of geological and climatic processes that shape the landscape over time, working together to create a harsh and unforgiving environment that is characterized by rocky terrain and a lack of vegetation

Hamadas are produced by means of deflation, a phenomenon which occurs when the wind lifts and moves sand and all loose material from the surface, leaving only the larger rock formations.

It takes place by three mechanisms: traction/surface creep, saltation, and suspension.

The finer-grained products are taken away in suspension, while the sand is removed through saltation and surface creep, leaving behind a landscape of gravel, boulders and bare rock.

Some of the processes that contribute to the formation of the hamada include:

  • Erosion: The rocky terrain of the hamada is formed by erosion, which is the process by which wind and water wear away at the surface of the earth. Over time, the wind and water can erode the rocks and soil of the hamada, leaving behind a landscape dominated by rocky outcrops and cliffs.
  • Deposition: In some cases, the wind and water of the hamada can also deposit sediment, such as sand and gravel, in the desert landscape. This can lead to the formation of features like sand dunes and alluvial fans.
  • Climate: The dry climate of the hamada is another factor that contributes to its formation. The lack of rainfall and high temperatures of the desert environment can make it difficult for plants to survive, leading to a barren, rocky landscape.

Rocky deserts can be found in many parts of the world, including Africa, the Middle East, and North and South America.

One of the most important examples of hamada is the Tinrhert rocky plateau in Algeria.

The largest hamada is found in the western Sahara desert. It is the most widespread form of desert in the Sahara; in fact, it occupies about 70 percent of its area.

Other rocky deserts are present in the middle east, such as the Negev desert in Israel or parts of the Arabian desert in Qatar, as well as certain areas of the Lut desert in Iran, which is also one of the smallest and the hottest desert in the world.


Read also: Deserts of the World


Hamada

A hamada is a type of desert characterized by its rocky terrain and lack of soil. The name hamada comes from the Arabic word for “rock”.

Hamadas are formed by a combination of erosion and deposition. Erosion is the process by which wind and water wear away at the surface of the earth. In a hamada, the wind and water remove the finer-grained materials from the surface, leaving behind the larger rocks.

Deposition is the process by which sediment is deposited in layers. In a hamada, the wind and water can sometimes deposit sand and gravel, but these deposits are usually thin and sparse.

The formation of hamadas involves a unique combination of geological and climatic processes.

Deflation, a phenomenon where the wind lifts and moves loose materials, plays a crucial role.

Through mechanisms like traction/surface creep, saltation, and suspension, the wind carries away finer-grained particles in suspension while transporting sand through saltation and surface creep.

As a result, the landscape of a hamada is characterized by gravel, boulders, and exposed rock formations.

Hamada (Rocky Desert)
Hamadas can be found in various parts of the world, including Africa, the Middle East, and North and South America.

Hamadas have distinct characteristics due to their environment.

They experience higher temperature ranges compared to other desert types, with rapid temperature fluctuations as the sun appears and disappears. Days are scorching hot, while nights can be near-freezing.

Vegetation in hamadas is scarce, consisting mainly of shrubs, brushwood, and thistles.

Except for the presence of oasis-generating surface water, the hamada is better suited for mechanical transportation rather than animal travel.

The nature of the hamada makes it the least humid of all desert types, posing challenges for human habitation.

The soil structure is permeable, allowing for rapid absorption of water. Common rock types found in hamadas include limestone, sandstone, basalt, and crystalline rocks like granite and gneiss.

Hamadas can be found in various parts of the world, including Africa, the Middle East, and North and South America.

One notable example is the Tinrhert rocky plateau in Algeria, while the largest hamada occupies a significant portion of the western Sahara desert.

Other rocky deserts exist in the Middle East, such as the Negev desert in Israel and parts of the Arabian desert in Qatar.

Certain areas of the Lut desert in Iran also showcase the characteristics of a hamada and are known as one of the smallest and hottest deserts globally.


What is a hamada?

A hamada is a type of desert characterized by its rocky terrain and lack of soil. The name hamada comes from the Arabic word for “rock”.

Hamadas are vast expanses of rocks that have been stripped of all debris by wind erosion.

How are hamadas formed?

Hamadas are formed through a combination of erosion and deposition processes.

Erosion occurs when wind and water wear away the surface of the earth, removing finer-grained materials and leaving behind larger rocks.

Deposition is the process by which sediment is deposited in layers. In a hamada, the wind and water can sometimes deposit sand and gravel, but these deposits are usually thin and sparse.

What are the characteristics of hamadas?

Hamadas are characterized by their rocky terrain, lack of soil, and high temperature ranges.

The rocks in a hamada are typically limestone, sandstone, basalt, and crystalline rocks like granite and gneiss.

Vegetation in hamadas is scarce, consisting mainly of shrubs, brushwood, and thistles.

Where are hamadas found?

Hamadas can be found in various parts of the world, including Africa, the Middle East, and North and South America.

Some notable examples of hamadas include the Tinrhert rocky plateau in Algeria and the western Sahara desert.

What are the challenges of living in a hamada?

The harsh environment of a hamada poses challenges for human habitation.

The high temperature ranges, lack of water, and poor soil quality make it difficult to grow crops or raise livestock.

Additionally, the rocky terrain can make it difficult to travel and build structures.

What are some of the animals that live in hamadas?

Animals that live in hamadas are typically adapted to the harsh environment.

Some common animals found in hamadas include lizards, snakes, scorpions, camels, and wild goats.


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