A grandiose testimony of the volcanic activity of the Hejaz
Makkah Province is also an active volcanic area where ancient and recent eruptions have poured lavas over wide areas called harra. On the north of the province the Harrat Rihat is the southern tip of a series of harras that spread over 300 kilometers until the city of Madinah.
200 kilometers flying distance to the city of Makkah is the Harrat Kishb where recent dark lava flows, volcanic cones, and craters including Wa'abah are clearly visible on satellite images.
The crater is located north of the the Riyadh-Makkah highway and is reachable after a 100 kilometer drive from the exit Umm Al-Dum. The tarmac goes until few hundreds meters to the crater and is continued by a good track that runs until the edge.
Once there one can admire the grandiose beauty of this wonderful natural feature that was created by a cataclysmic event.
Indeed in this area where magma regularly rises for millions of years until the surface where it creates volcanoes and lava fields, at the location of Wa'abah the scenario was quite different as magma met some underground water on its way.
The magma brought the water till the point of boiling as the pressure resulting from the water boiling under the ground was a gigantic explosion that created the nearly two kilometers diameter large crater of Wa'abah.
If the temperature has cooled down and the lava has solidified long ago, the palm trees growing on the edge of the crater attests of the presence till today of underground water.
Although the downhill path is a bit steep it is possible to walk down the crater sides until the bottom located 200 meters lower.
The center of the crater is covered with salty sediments whose whitish color sharply contrasts with the dark shades of the basaltic ground.
But the stunning view from the top that reveals the huge dimensions of the crater already deserves a trip to admire Wa'abah.
A grandiose testimony of the volcanic activity of the Hejaz (author: Florent Egal)