The Arava Valley A Geological Window that allows the visitor to see through millions of years. But first what is a tectonic window? So simply explained it means a geologic structure formed by erosion or normal faulting on a thrust system; which means a break in the Earth’s crust, across which older rocks are pushed above younger rocks. If you’ll visit Timna Park you could see exactly what I mean.
The Timna Valley is located at the northern end of the Arab-Novi Shield formed at the end of the Precambrian era. Then the processes of crystallization of magma in Timna have formed phaneritic plutonic rocks such as granite; Syenite, and Gabbro. The uplift of the area about 550 million years ago was accompanied by intense erosion; which exposed some of the ancient Igneous bedrock.
On top of the exposed rocks, a thick layer of sandstone was stratified by streams that flowed from east to west. These sandstones were layering from the turn of the Cambrian. Above the sandstone, sandy dolomite and shale were also found on the summit of Mount Timna and in the outcrops along the Timna River. These rocks were stratified during a sea flood that reached the Eilat area in the Lower Cambrian.
Arava Valley A Geological Window: Beautiful Colored Sand Stone 320M Years Old
A long period of weathering and drifting activity then began. About 320 million years ago a new stratification of white and colored sandstones began. The variety of colors is due to the penetration of solutions rich in iron and copper into the sandstones. Layers of marine sedimentary rocks with a total thickness of about 800 meters; containing many fossils indicate that the area was flooded by the Tethys Sea.
Then the sea, which advanced from the northwestern region; reached the Timna region about 100 million years ago (Cenomanian Era). This flooding lasted until about 40 million years ago (Eocene Epoch) during which limestone; dolomite; marl; clay; chalk, phosphorite, and flint were mainly stratified. The process of upliftment of the area at the end of the Eocene Epoch led to the retreat of the Tethys Sea.
Then the marine sedimentary rocks were exposed and a long period of terrestrial weathering began during which most of the rocks that were at the top of the marine section were swept away. Most of the geological faults found in the Timna Valley are marginal structures associated with the refractive processes of the Syrian-African rift; which began less than 20 million years ago and continues to this day.
I invite you to join one of my tours of the Arava Valley and explore this amazing region. Sadly some people that come to visit Israel tend to skip it. But I would urge you to reconsider if you have some extra days. My recommendation is to go right away to Timan Park which is a magical place, and good for families as well.
Arava Valley A Geological Window: Geological Features
The most striking and well-known formation in Timna Valley is Solomon’s Pillars. The pillars are natural structures that were formed by centuries of water erosion through fractures in the sandstone cliff until it became a series of distinct, pillar-shaped structures. There is another geological point of interest called ‘The Mushroom’ is an unusual monolithic; mushroom-shaped; red sandstone rock formation is known as a hoodoo. The mushroom shape was caused by wind, humidity, and water erosion over centuries. The Mushroom is surrounded by copper ore smelting sites from between the 14th and 12th centuries BCE.
Last, there another geological wonder and those are the arches. The Arches are natural arches formed by erosion, as well, and can be seen along the western cliff of the valley. Arches are not as rare as Solomon’s Pillars and the Mushroom; similar structures can be found elsewhere in the world. The walking trail that goes to the Arches also goes past the copper mine shafts.