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Scientific Investigations Report 2006-5182

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Prepared under the auspices of the U.S. Agency for International Development

Geology, Water, and Wind in the Lower Helmand Basin, Southern Afghanistan

By John W. Whitney

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Abstract

This report presents an overview of the geology, hydrology, and climate of the lower Helmand Basin, a large, closed, arid basin in southern Afghanistan. The basin is drained by the Helmand River, the only perennial desert stream between the Indus and Tigris-Euphrates Rivers. The Helmand River is the lifeblood of southern Afghanistan and has supported desert civilizations in the Sistan depression for over 6,000 years.

The Helmand Basin is a structurally closed basin that began to form during the middle Tertiary as a consequence of the collision of several Gondwanaland fragments. Aeromagnetic studies indicate the basin is 3–5 kilometers deep over basement rocks. Continued subsidence along basin-bounding faults in Iran and Pakistan throughout the Neogene has formed the Sistan depression in the southwest corner of the basin. Lacustrine, eolian, and fluvial deposits are commonly...>>MORE

Version 1.0

Posted November 2006

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