“A Gigantic Geological Fault.”

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Abstract

IN the very interesting description, by Captain A. H. McMahon, of the features of the country on the southern borderlands of Afghanistan, which appears in the Geographical Journal for this month (April 1897, p. 393), he gives an account of a remarkable trench, or depression, running in a nearly N.N.E. and S.S.W. direction along the borders of Registan, which he was able to trace for 120 miles, but which may extend for a much greater distance through that wild region, and he clearly identifies it as the line of a large fault dividing a district composed of sedimentary rocks on the east, from one formed of igneous rocks on the west. On reading this account, the resemblance of this line of fracture to that of the Jordan-Arabah Valley at once suggested itself to my mind. The resemblance is nearly complete as regards the latter, from the head of the Gulf of Akabah as far as the northern end of the Dead Sea, at least; except in this respect, that in the case of the Jordan-Arabah fault the sedimentary rocks occur on the west side, and the igneous rocks on the east. But the author has surely been misinformed as regards the statement, that “the length of this fault (which he traced) exceeds that of any fault-line as yet discovered on this earth” (p. 403). As far as actual observation goes, that of the Jordan-Arabah Valley is much longer; for, measured only from the head of the Gulf of Akabah to the base of Hermon, it has a length of 270 miles or more; while there can be little doubt that it ranges still further north into the valley of Cœle-Syria. In the opposite direction, it may well be supposed that it follows the Gulf of Akabah for an unknown distance. It will thus be seen that the fault-line of the Jordan-Arabah Valley is very much longer than that of the border of Registan, described by Captain McMahon, as far as actual observation is concerned. But I am very far from asserting that either the one, or the other, exceeds in length that of any fault-line yet discovered.

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