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A kurkar ridge near Zikhron Ya'akov, Israel
Exposed kurkar at Tel Dor beach

Kurkar (Arabic: كركار‎ /Hebrew: כורכר‎) is a type of calcareous sandstone common in Israel. The country's kurkar ridges, unique in the world, are fossilized sea sand dunes.[1]

The continental shelf and coastal plain of Israel are composed of kurkar, a carbonate-cemented quartz sandstone that forms a series of ridges along the shore. Kurkar is a lithification product of windblown sands that created dunes during the Pleistocene.[2] There are three underwater sandstone ridges off the coast and two on land.[1] In the Gaza Strip, coastal plain kurkar deposits of medium to coarse-grained calcareous sandstone are characterized by crossbedding.[3]

Israel's coastal sand dunes, the habitat of many rare species of plants and animals, are made of kurkar interspersed with hamra, red sandy loam. Until the beginning of the 20th century, Palestine (then under the Ottoman Empire) had 285 square kilometers of kurkar and hamra formations. Due to construction, farming and the use of off-road vehicles, this has diminished to 109 square kilometers.[4]

Kurkar ridges in Israel/Palestine provide nesting sites for an endangered species of bird, the European bee-eater; and nine species of wild plants native only to Israel, such as the coastal iris.[4]

In May 2009, an offshore pilot study was conducted in the northern Galilee by a team of scientists collecting geological, geophysical, geochemical and biological data in the vicinity of the Bustan Hagalil kurkar ridge. The ridge was mapped during the National Bathymetric Survey of Israel by multibeam sonar.[5]

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