In most hot deserts Quaternary environmental changes have left their imprint on ground conditions, creating a legacy of materials that often reflect past as well as contemporary processes, and can appear unusual to geologists trained in temperate environments. Attention is drawn in this article to three near-surface features (duricrusts, palaeolakes and sulphate-rich soils) that reflect changing environmental conditions and that are of potential significance to engineering investigation, design and construction.

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