Persian Gulf [ << ]

The Persian Gulf, also known as the Arabian Gulf, is a 600-mile-long body of water which separates Iran from the Arabian Peninsula. It covers an area of 240,000 km², and has a maximum depth of 90 m. Its average depth is 50 meters. To the south, the coast line is flat, while the coast on the Iranian side is mountainous. The water temperatures are high. As a result of evaporation being much higher than the supply of fresh water, the salinity is as high as 4%.

The Persian Gulf was created by the emergence of the Zagros mountains in the Cenozoic. It is the basin which in this situation is always located before a mountain range. The basin was gradually filled with sediments from the surrounding mountains, mostly with sand and silt and is now a great repository for oil and gas.

The Persian Gulf coast is sparsely populated. The neighbouring mountain range acts as a wind barrier, causing air temperatures and humidity to rise very high along the coast. Furthermore, the annual rainfall is limited to only about 200 mm. As a consequence, agriculture is only possible in floodplains.

The non-perennial rivers only carry water during summertime, resulting in water shortage in the remaining months. Groundwater can not be used either, because it is contaminated with salt from fossil salt deposits.

Numerous islands exist along the shore. Most of them consist of coral limestone and salt depositions.

The island Qeshm is the largest Persian island. It is located in the Strait of Hormoz. In the northwest of the island there are small areas with mangrove forest. It forms the northernmost extension of the eastern Asian mangrove habitat. The mangrove forest is characterized by a low diversitiy of species. Only Avicennia marina and Rhizophora spec. grow here.

Fig. 13: mangrove forest, Qeshm (photo: V. Schick)

The Makran coast exhibits special geological features. It was formed by tectonical uplift and deformation. It is characterized by beach terraces which form distinct cliff lines in parts of the coast.

The Persian Gulf is very important for international trading connections. Several harbours are located along the coast. The most important harbour is Bandar-e-Abbas. Another important industrial sector is the petrol and gas industry. In the shallow northern part of the Persian Gulf, offshore oil production is practised.

[authors]: Valeria Schick, Franziska Volland-Voigt
Ehlers, E. (1980): Iran, 596 S., Darmstadt.

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