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Durham e-Theses
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El-Marj Plain: a geographical study

Buru, M. M. (1965) El-Marj Plain: a geographical study. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



El-Marj Plain is a closed depression on the upper terrace of the Jebel Akhdar of Cyrenaica. It is the largest karstic basin in the whole of Cyrenaica. The Plain has a subvalley shape with a total area of about 1,100 Most of the Arable land is located between 278 and 300 m. above sea-level. The escarpments to the north and the south of the Plain are dissected by numerous wadis making the extension of the road system an expensive task. The water flows in the wadis during the winter and either reaches the sea or disappears into the pervious limestones without being utilised by man. Geologically, the most extensive strata are the Middle Eocene. Rainfall is the main fundamental factor in El-Marj Plain since dry farming is practised there, and there are no means of irrigation except on the coastal plain. El-Marj Plain receives an annual rainfall average varying between 300 and 500 mm. However, the rainfall is erratic both in quantity and distribution. The rather high average of rainfall, topography and heavy Terra Rossa soils determine the vegetation cover in the region. The flora of the Plain is related more to the Maghreb and southern Europe than to the rest of Libya. Shortage of water and soil erosion are the main physical obstacles to. Economic development. The underground water in El-Marj Plain is contained chiefly in fractures, bedding planes and solution opening in the limestone country rock. The Terra Rossa soils in El-Marj Plain are quite deep and provide an adequate rooting medium for plants and the limitations found are not so much inherent as related to the system, of management. There is no pedalogical reason to suppose that under a good management system the soils of El-Marj Plain should not prove particularly fertile. The long history of the region shows that it was subjected to the invasions of the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Turks and Italians. The invasion of Bani Sulaim tribally organised nomads in the eleventh century brought an end to a long period of sedentary life. After a long period of stagnation the Italians planned for a demographic colonisation, but this had come to an end in 1943 and the Bedouin again regained the control of the whole of Cyrenaica. El-Marj Plain’s principle natural resource is agriculture and rising livestock. The main crops are barley and wheat followed by olives, almonds and vines. Vegetables are grown in the area on only a small scale. Livestock production in the area probably accounts for a greater value than crop production in most years. After the discovery of oil and the rapid increase in production, capital has become available for economic development. Consequently, the Libyan Government has planned to settle the Bedouin who occupied the former Italian farms. The highly favourable terms offered by the N.A.S.A. scheme for re-settlement taken along with a powerful internal trend towards sedentary life appears to give grounds for optimism. The total population of El-Marj Plain and the adjacent administrative units is 39,867 (l964). The only urban centre in the region is El-Marj town, which was struck by an earthquake in 1963. A new town will be built to replace the destroyed centre.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:1965
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 16:51

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