By Charles F. Gritzner
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Extra resources for Deserts (Extreme Environments)
In size, however, this magnificent feature is dwarfed by Mexico’s Cañon del Cobre (Copper Canyon), a huge trench scoured into the Sierra Madre Occidental. A typical desert landscape might be one of highlands bordering a large basin. At the foot of the mountain (the piedmont), alluvial fans are formed where streams flowing from the highlands deposit debris in the shape of a fan. When joined together, the fans form a bajada slope, a gentle slope often covered with fertile soil and occasional freshwater springs.
The kinds of animals that are herded vary by location, but they can include camels, horses, oxen, and donkeys, as well as sheep and goats. Each of these animals was domesticated in the Middle East; 63 64 Deserts hence, nomadism began in this region and gradually spread elsewhere in Asia and North Africa. There were no domesticated animals other than dogs in the desert regions of southern Africa, Australia, and South America, (though the llama and alpaca are Andean domesticates). Rather than randomly wandering, nomads know precisely where they are going and when they need to be there.
While drilling for oil in the desert of southern Libya in the 150s, drillers made an amazing discovery: A huge freshwater aquifer lies deep beneath the surface of the Sahara Desert. As yet, this discovery has not led to a rush into the desert interior. It has, however, contributed to what some observers claim to be the world’s largest and most costly engineering venture, Libya’s Great Man-Made River Project. S. currency, the aqueduct brings groundwater from the heart of the Sahara Desert in the southern part of the country northward to the heavily populated coastal region.