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I am building a world with many deserts and swamps. So a simple question:

Are there any real world examples of where a desert and a swamp meet each other?

Deserts and swamps are vastly different types of terrain (one containing hardly any water and the other containing lots of water), so I would assume they wouldn't come in contact with each other. But the world is a strange place, and I was just wondering if such a meeting actually exists.

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    $\begingroup$ Something to remember is that a desert is considered by lack of precipitation, not by the dryness or sand. Antarctica is considered a desert. A desert is one which receives less than 50 cm/yr in precipitation. If a river runs through your desert (as seen in many answers), it's still a desert with a large wet spot :D $\endgroup$ – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Nov 3 '15 at 0:15
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    $\begingroup$ Actually, more than what @Paulster2 mention, a desert is, literally, a place with none or few inhabitants. Regardless of the climate. You might specify what you have in mind for deserts. $\endgroup$ – clem steredenn Nov 3 '15 at 7:24
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    $\begingroup$ for "desert" think "sahara" :) $\endgroup$ – Jimmery Nov 3 '15 at 10:40
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    $\begingroup$ Sahara is so large you can find several ecosystems there that are not even remotely similar to each other. There are even parts of Sahara that are flooded regularly... $\endgroup$ – Agent_L Nov 3 '15 at 16:21
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    $\begingroup$ You did, and I apologize. I took the time to really look through all of this and I'm wondering why on earth this even got into the VTC queue. Two years old, has the fictional world offset... I should have looked more closely when it appeared in the queue rather than jumping to a conclusion when I saw the phrase "real world" in the title. It seems someone started this ball rolling without giving you an explanation. I apologize for having no more insight than a lemming. $\endgroup$ – JBH Dec 21 '17 at 21:37
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In the Arabian Gulf, there's a lot of muddy, mucky water covered with mangroves, and fauna such as flamingos and dugong/manatee populations. At night and in the mornings, there's a thick fog over these areas, even though this is one of the hottest regions of the world.

I like the other answers, just adding another existing situation. This is us mucking through the swamp in the middle of summer with kayaks and sunblock in Abu Dhabi. Heaps of swampland all year round, with little islets and a diverse ecology. There also exists a lot of marine diversity as well.

The requirement for this kind of ecology is slow flushing - the movement of water should be slight tidal up/down in an area with clean water and limited flushing in a climate that has hot days and cold nights (coastal desert). Sediments are a mix of sand and organic soils between freshwater and salt water (estuary), and is immediately against a desert landscape.

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EDIT: As requested, more pictures.

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    $\begingroup$ Can you provide a google maps picture of the place you are talking about? I am curious. $\endgroup$ – James Nov 2 '15 at 22:03
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    $\begingroup$ Sure. These particular ones are largely untouched (obviously there has been dredging) just next to Abu Dhabi Island, but there are a lot along the coastline west of Abu Dhabi. I'll also note that these are expanses of saltwater, which may not be the OP's desired habitat. $\endgroup$ – Mikey Nov 2 '15 at 22:19
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    $\begingroup$ I hope there is a better word for 'muck,' which I meant to include sand, eroded soils, organic material and a combination of fresh and salt water and the associated fauna. I can only think of the word swamp. $\endgroup$ – Mikey Nov 3 '15 at 0:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Mikey Chat $\endgroup$ – Samuel Nov 6 '15 at 0:25
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    $\begingroup$ @T.E.D. - not at all; this is in the Arabian (or "Persian") Gulf, this is not in the Nile, and the fauna, temperatures and salinity would not support Nile crocodiles - thank goodness! $\endgroup$ – Mikey Apr 4 '17 at 18:00
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The Tigris-Euphrates river system in Iraq is a vast area of lakes, swamps and marshes all surrounded by desert. A good example is the Hawizeh (Google Maps) and Hammar Marshes (Google Maps) inhabited by the Maʻdān or "Marsh Arabs".

"Village of the Marsh Arabs" by www.abualsoof.com - http://www.abualsoof.com/en/inp/view_Wp.asp?ID=65. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Village_of_the_Marsh_Arabs.jpeg#/media/File:Village_of_the_Marsh_Arabs.jpeg

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  • $\begingroup$ Charming picture! $\endgroup$ – Anton Sherwood Sep 8 at 17:31
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As you've said, swamps require a lot of water while deserts require a lack of water. Where can we see this?

Nile

This is a picture of the Nile. I don't think it can be considered swampland, but it gives you a good starting point — a river running through an otherwise desert area. The source of the river will obviously need to be a less arid area, but farther down there can be an area where the river starts to run slowly. A small, shallow lake could form that would then be filled with plants. That seems like a good recipe for a swamp to me.

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    $\begingroup$ When the ancient Nile was in flood, the banks could well be considered swamp. Today, of course, the annual floods are held in check by a series of dams. $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Nov 3 '15 at 1:11
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    $\begingroup$ "deserts require a lack of water". No, deserts require a lack of precipitation. $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Oct 4 '17 at 8:15
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How about a swamp inside a desert?

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A swamp in the context of a desert will more likely be called an oasis, but all the parts are there right?

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 agreed, and also for storytelling it generates a 'swampy' / 'misty' atmosphere in mornings and at night. $\endgroup$ – Mikey Nov 2 '15 at 21:56
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    $\begingroup$ Also note that a real oasis will very likely be more swamp like then people imagine, the only reason why an oasis would contain crystal clear water is if the water itself is poisionous. Otherwise it would be filled with live and probably have a sort of green/brown colour. $\endgroup$ – Thijser Nov 3 '15 at 21:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Thijser: I've seen and touched the counterexample with my own eyes and hands. $\endgroup$ – Joshua Mar 28 '16 at 19:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Joshua Might happen but where did you find a oasis that was both clean, not man made and not dangerous to drink from? Seems that would require some special circumstances(preventing algae from making the water green). $\endgroup$ – Thijser Mar 29 '16 at 8:31
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    $\begingroup$ Lost Palms oasis in Joshua Tree. (Warning: Not the oasis with a road to it. That one has heavy metal poisoning due to mining activity.) I think the answer to how has something to do with the local algae sticking to the rocks rather than floating in the water, and not all rocks can have algae stuck to them. $\endgroup$ – Joshua Mar 29 '16 at 15:19
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If by "think sahara" you meant the typical Hollywood portrayal as "beach with dunes" then dunes don't require very arid climate. They're more dependent on wind+sand combo and low water table than on air dryness and lack of rainfall. You can have dunes pretty much everywhere. All you need is to remove plants (to free up the sand) and open space for wind. Wind will keep moving the dunes thus preventing plants from re-growing.

For a real world examples, take a look at Błędów desert, often called "Europe's mini-Sahara". Created by humans by cutting down the trees and lowering water table. Surrounded by a forest and with a river cutting straight through the middle. Not a real marsh/desert border that you've asked for, but shows how easily a desert can be created pretty much anywhere with sandy soil.

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    $\begingroup$ Yup. Some of the more recent comments and answers have drifted away from "desert/swamp meeting" thing and moved more towards a "what defines a desert" thing... Still fascinating, but not quite what I was after originally... Have an upvote anyways! $\endgroup$ – Jimmery Nov 3 '15 at 17:44
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Australia has several places where this happens - the Simpson desert being a great example. As a previous answer said - anywhere there is drainage into a lake could potentially fit this criteria, however the whole area is a vast flood plain, and a lot of the areas through the desert contain billabongs which are far more swamp than oases.

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There's the Okavango Delta, whose Wikipedia article mentions two similar features of which I was not aware, in widely separated parts of Africa. (I don't yet have the mojo to post three links.)

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    $\begingroup$ Please provide more discussion to back up this answer. Also it is preferable to include a quote from the reference (sometimes links are lost). $\endgroup$ – Jim2B Nov 3 '15 at 4:17
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    $\begingroup$ More generally any river system that drains into a lake in the middle of a desert, from where water is removed by evaporation. In the USA there's the great salt lake and lake Mono. I'm pretty certain that wherever there is a lake there will be swampy margins. $\endgroup$ – nigel222 Nov 3 '15 at 10:10
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Even in England, Romney Marsh is immediately adjacent to Dungeness, which is the only desert in the UK.

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Malhuer and Harney Lakes in the Great Basin high desert.

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    $\begingroup$ Could you add a bit more documentation that there is a swamp there that borders directly on the desert? Note that the accepted answer uses pictures for this while lower voted answers link to documentation. $\endgroup$ – Brythan Jan 6 '16 at 3:26

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