Zone 1: Southern Jafr

The area of al-Thulaythuwat is located to the south of the al-Jafr Basin, halfway between Ma’an and al-Mudawwara at the Saudi border. The area is totally inserted in the desert landscape dominated by a hyperarid environment, receiving less than 50 mm of rainfall per year. In terms of phytogeography, the area is at the confluence of the Saharo Arabian desert and the Sudanian entity. Although it is isolated in a remote arid environment, al-Thulaythuwat area takes advantage of a strategic location at crossroads dictated by topography. It is on the road running from Saudi Arabia through the Wadi Hisma which divides into one route leading to the Jordan plateau through the al-Jafr basin, and a second route leading to the Jordan Valley and the Gulf of Aqaba through the Wadi Rum cut. On the other hand, the area is also characterized by the diversity of the environments represented. To the north, it is composed of a limestone plateau rising to an elevation ranging between 960 m and 1050 m height. This cuesta geological formation is gently sloping towards the north-east and is covered by limestone and chert boulders characteristic of the hamada landscapes of eastern deserts of Jordan.

Thulaythuwat,  the limestone plateau from the east

It is dissected by a dense hydrographical network of which the WadiAbu Meil and Wadi al Kareem are the most important seasonal water courses, fl owing north towards the al-Jafr Basin. The plateau ends in the south at a steep slope more than 100 m height, which corresponds to the extension of the Ras en Naqb escarpment farther west. The second geographical entity is constituted of a sandy alluvial plain stretching from the base of the steep slope towards Saudi Arabia and the great Nefud to the south. It follows a gentle slope towards the southeast and is scattered with numerous residual sandstone hills or inselbergs.

The three peaks of Jebel al-Thulaythuwat are one of these geological formations extending over 2 km long and terminated to the south by Jebel Mekeyhel al-Thulaythuwat. A dense hydrographical network of shallow wadis and sandy playas are organized around the major seasonal wadis as Wadi Mshash Kabd, Wadi Jubu’, Wadi Mekeyhel and Wadi Ruwaytah. In the southeastern extremity of the study area, the Qa’ Jubu’ mudflat is a large natural depression collecting the run-off water from different wadis of the plain.