On my random explorations of google maps, I came across this interesting terrain:

enter image description here

(link to map here)

Apparently, this is part of the so-called Hamad Plateau, in the Syrian desert. If so, the rock would be limestone, which I read is not directly related to volcanoes. But it just kind of look like it from above.

Anyone has some information on what this geological area is? I can find little about it, eve it even is the Hamad Plateau. I must say that I have zero knowledge of geology. Zooming in you see a lot of rock and desert, and not so much height variation, so maybe it's not a volcano. Still, it's interesting by the colour and shape. Any help is more than welcome!

  • $\begingroup$ Certainly looks volcanic as to other lines of craters near-by. If you use Google Earth you can draw a path through the central crater then right click on the path to chose "show elevation profile" This will show you the cone shape of the dark area $\endgroup$
    – haresfur
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 0:39

1 Answer 1


My Rand-McNally Atlas shows the signature for lava fields in that area. The elevations in Google Maps indicate concentric contour lines with only small differences in elevation, rising from 600m at the outer perimeter to 700m in its center. This a shallow cone-shaped formation. Best I can tell from Wikipedia (compare the picture there), this feature is:

As-Safa (Arabic: الصفا‎, Aṣ-Ṣafā), also known as Tulul al-Safa (تلول الصفا, Tulūl Eṣ-Ṣafā), Arabic for Al-Safa hills, is a hilly region which lies in southern Syria, north-east of Jabal Al-Arab volcanic plateau. It consists of a basaltic lava field of volcanic origin, covering an area of 220 square kilometres, and contains at least 38 cinder cones.

NASA Earth Observatory provides a satellite view as well and gives a few more details regarding the very noticeable dark area:

Es Safa contains numerous vents that have been active during the Holocene Epoch (beginning approximately 12,000 years ago). The most recent recorded activity was a boiling lava lake observed in the area around 1850. The dark lava flow field (center) likely represents the latest activity of the volcanic field, and is emplaced over older, lighter colored flows.


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