The Iraqi military forces planted between 500,000 and 2.5 million land mines in the desert and coastal areas of Kuwait. The mining was done during the occupation phase to hamper the expected liberation of Kuwait by military action. Numerous defense lines were established particularly along the border of Saudi Arabia and the coastline of the Arabian Gulf. In addition, mines were laid in areas of high troop concentrations, particularly in the triborder area near the western corner of Kuwait.
The laying of land mines is a process that results in the disturbance of stabilized soil and exposure of finegrained material to the action of wind. This is particularly obvious in a minefield along the northern coast of Kuwait Bay (Fig. 1). In this case, the mines
were laid in a soil that was stabilized by salt crust. The process of digging the land to plant the mines destroyed the drier crust, resulting in the deflation of the soil layer and exposure of the mines (Fig. 8).
During liberation, several passages were made through the minefield along the southern border of Kuwait. Breakthroughs were made by exploding the mines in groups. This process also disturbed additional stretches of desert pavement. In addition, bombing of Iraqi defensive positions by coalition forces resulted in cratering of the desert surface where bombs missed their targets. Ejecta from the craters exposed much fine-grained soil to the wind. However, because of the accurate targeting these craters are few and far between.
Much of the disruption of the desert surface in the minefields occurred during the postliberation phase as a result of mine detection and detonation. Crews of mine detectors were followed by mine sweepers and/or detonation equipment. The raking of the land and the explosion of mines and undetonated cluster bombs and other ordnance further disturbed the desert surface by exposing fine-grained soil to the wind.