Musfur chasm: the chasm in the desert of Qatar

(CNN) – Right in the middle of the Qatari Peninsula, a large chasm suddenly opens into the rocky desert, plunging about 100 meters into the ground.

It’s an awesome sight whether you’re standing upstairs or downstairs.

This is Musfur, a massive ancient cave believed to be the deepest accessible sinkhole ever discovered in Qatar.

The site is located less than an hour’s drive west of Doha, just off the main road to Salwa, making it an ideal destination for a quick and easy exit for anyone wishing to explore the underground.

The Musfur sinkhole is said to be a glimpse of the region’s geological formation.

Dimitris Sideridis

The entrance to Musfur is closed by a protective fence. Reaching the sandy depths of the chasm is relatively easy, but visitors should be vigilant as they hurtle down the steep and rugged passage. Hiking shoes are essential, but be very careful not to step on the bugs that crawl through the rocks.

The light from the entrance gradually fades as you descend to the bottom, while a pleasant breeze passes through the layers of limestone and gypsum.

While plant life is largely absent, you will come across small birds that have built their nests high on rock crevices.

Karst creations

Musfur is Qatar's largest sinkhole.

Musfur is Qatar’s largest sinkhole.

Dimitris Sideridis

The sinkholes are a typical feature of the karst topography.

This distinctive environment is the product of slightly acidic water acting on soluble bedrock such as limestone. As the water seeps into the rock, it gradually deteriorates, forming openings. Over time, these cavities fill with sand and soil. When they get big enough and the arch opening collapses, a chasm forms.

Besides sinkholes, Qatar’s karst landforms include depressions, caves, dissolution hollows, and rawdahs (gardens, meadows, or fertile depressions in Arabic).

According to geologists Abdulali M. Sadiq and Sobhi J. Nasir, writing in the Journal of Cave and Karst Studies: “Most of the karsts in central Qatar were formed due to extensive underground dissolution of carbonate and sulphate deposits. under the Middle Pleistocene. [325,000-560,000 years ago] humid climatic conditions and consequent subsidence. “

Snapshot of the past

Birds can often be seen in the rugged sinkhole.

Birds can often be seen in the rugged sinkhole.

Dimitris Sideridis

Aspa D. Chatziefthimiou, senior environmentalist and discussion coordinator at the Qatar Natural History Group, who has visited Musfur several times over the past decade, said descending into the chasm opens a window to the distant past.

“If you know how karst is formed, it’s like going back in geological time; seeing right now how water was circulating and making holes in the bedrock,” she told CNN.

“You get a snapshot – and it happens [often] in Qatar, the journey through geological time. “

To get to Musfur from Doha, head south on Salwa Road to the Mekaines exit. From there it is off-road so it is recommended to use a map app and an all-terrain vehicle as the drive on the bumpy road is bumpy. A headlamp and water are essential, as is, of course, bringing the garbage home.

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