A Geology Field Trip to Oman
Saturday 14 – Thursday 26 January 2023
Alumni Tour led by Professor Mike Searle & Professor Bruce Levell
Day 1 : To Muscat
Depart from London Heathrow onboard Oman Airways direct flight WY102 at 20:05 to Muscat, Oman.
Day 2 : Muscat
Arrive Muscat at 07:15
Met on arrival, transfer to Hotel Crowne Plaza. We will have time at leisure until the afternoon, after lunch leave for an orientation tour in and around Muscat sightseeing and appreciating local geological features. The old souq on Muttrah Corniche is a lively place to end the day: the market remains open and busy until late at night. D
Day 3 : Muscat
This day will be spent looking at the high-pressure zone along the northern part of the Saih Hatat mountains. During the late stage of the ophiolite obduction process the leading margin of the Arabian plate was subducted won to depths of 100 km and transformed to eclogite facies We will examine the metamorphiosed and deformed shelf carbonate sequence at various paleo burial depth stages in blueschist and eclogite facies. Wadi Mayh cuts across the strike and provides spectacular views of the largest, and best-preserved mega-sheath fold in the World. We will make two stops to see the whole structure in 3D. Continuing north along Wadi Mayh we drive a new winding road along the coast of Bandar Khayran towards As Sifah. We will have a picnic lunch on the way at Yenkit, where impressive ductile shear zones mark zones of high strain during exhumation. We pass down-structural section into eclogites and glaucophane schists of the subducted continental crust. We will board a boat at As Sifah marina for a 2-3 hour cruise, stopping off (wading ashore) at the largest and best eclogite beach north of Sifah village then continue along the spectacular coast, where we will see the fjords and islands to the north of Bandar Khyran and Yenkit, to the ophiolite coastline around Muscat. The jeeps will meet us at Muscat marina and we will drive back to the hotel. Optional second Muttrah Corniche visit on the way back. B, D
Day 4 : To Mussanah
Leaving Muscat behind, we will drive first towards Fanjah and then take the highway through the mountains to Awabi. This road traverses the Moho, the boundary between the oceanic crust and the mantle, a unique locality and one of special geological significance. We will have lunch at Wadi Taww, where we will see the Base Jurassic to Late Cretaceous section of the autochthon and overthrust Permian pillow lavas. A drive of ca 80 kms then takes us to Al Hazm where we will visit the beautifully restored historic fort. We will reach Mussanah early evening and check in at Millennium Resort for two nights. B, D
Day 5 : Wadi Hemli
Today’s focus is on the ophiolite itself. Wadi Hemli is a particularly scenic valley a short drive from Mussanah. This wadi transects the Oman Ophiolite sequence including the Moho. We will make a complete section through the ophiolite from the sheeted dyke complex down through lower crust gabbros, across the Moho. Transition zone to mantle harzburgites. We will have a picnic lunch in the wadi.
Serpentinised ultramafic mantle rocks (harzburgites, dunites) have the potential to sequester huge amounts of CO2, and thus scientists are currently researching whether that natural process can be enhanced to capture and store atmospheric CO2 in the ophiolite. B, D
Day 6 : To Rustaq
Your journey today includes spectacularly deformed outcrops of the thrust sheets beneath the ophiolite in the ‘Hawasina window’ as well as superb outcrops of pillow lavas and sheeted dykes in the ophiolite itself, and the ‘metamorphic sole’ under the ophiolite. The metamorphic sole of the ophiolite provides evidence for the initiation of subduction and processes of initial ophiolite detachment. We will drive on gravel roads through Wadi Hawasina, and arrive at Rustaq on the edge of Jebel Akhdar in the late evening.
The city is surrounded by the Al Hajir Mountains, and the town is famous for its date plantations, a huge restored old castle and fortress, an old souq (market), and a hot spring. Stay at Biat Bimah for two nights. B, D
Day 7 : Wadi Bani Kharus and Wadi Hajir
Today we will explore wadi sections through the Jebel Akhdar. Wadi is an Arabic word referring to a dry river valley, apart from in the rainy season when they can flood.
Wadi Bani Kharus is famed for its geological interest, notably important outcrops for Proterozoic-Cambrian glacial tillite and rocks related to the Snowball Earth hypothesis. In Wadi Hajir we will make a short but steep walk to an abandoned village. We will then drive into Wadi Bani Kharus for a picnic lunch We will return to Rustaq in the evening in time for dinner. B, D
Day 8 : To Nizwa
Today’s programme begins with a visit to Wadi Sahtan, and then Wadi Bani Awf accessed along a steep and winding gravel road suitable only for 4x4s. The views on the drive are spectacular with excellent outcrops of the Mesozoic shelf carbonates. We will make a short stop at Bilad Sait, one of the most iconic mountain villages in Oman, set above terraced fields of green barley, with a spectacular backdrop of the 2000 meter high cliffs of Jebel Shams behind. We will drive across Jebel Akhdar— the Green mountain along an incredible switch-back dirt road, and then descend to Nizwa, the ancient capital of Oman, where we will spend two nights in the Antique Inn Hotel. B, D
Day 9 : Bahla and Wadi Nakhr
We will first head into the Jebel Shams Mountains to Wadi Nakhr, Oman’s own Grand Canyon. The drive up to the canyon rim at 2600 meters is arguably the most spectacular road in Arabia with incredible views along the Oman Mountains and down into the great canyon. There are small hill villages on the way where locals sell Omani sheep and goat skin rugs.
On the return we will visit Bahla with its spectacular fort and old souq, a UNESCO World Heritage Site centred around a 13th century fortress, now wholly renovated in local style. We will return to Nizwa for a second night. B, D
Day 10 : Saiq Plateau - Jebel Akhdar
In the morning we will visit Nizwa with its round fort and the nearby goat market and souqs. Today’s primary geological attraction is Wadi Muaydeen, considered to be one of the most important geological sites in Oman, where geologists first worked out the entire Mesozoic stratigraphy of the shelf carbonates, that eventually led to the discovery of oil. We will have our picnic lunch in the wadi. The journey continues across the Saiq Plateau at about 2000 meters elevation. This is one of the most fertile parts of Oman thanks to its altitude and microclimate suitable for growing cherries, grapes, peaches and pomegranates. The village of Al Ayn has ingenious ancient waterway (falaj) system for irrigating the fields, and it’s also well known for its rose water production. We will stay for two nights at Sama Hotel. B, D
Day 11 : Jebel Aklhdar
Day at leisure. Stay at Hotel Dusit D2 Naseem Resort. Optional geological tours and walks within a few kms of the hotel. B, D
Day 12 : To Muscat
Today we will drive back to Muscat, breaking the journey at Birkat al Mawz, a village on the southern rim of Jebel Akhdar at the mouth of Wadi Muaydeen; and again at the Semail Gap, where amazing views of the 2500 meter high limestone cliffs of Jebel Nakhl to the west and the jagged black mountains of the ophiolite to the east. Arriving in Muscat, stay overnight at the Raddison Blue Hotel. B, D
Day 13 : To London
We will depart from Muscat onboard Oman Airways flight WY101 at 14:10, arrive arrive Heathrow Airport at 18:25. B
|Price per person
|Single room supplement|
- International flights in economy class inclusive all taxes.
- Accommodation with private facilities as mentioned in the itinerary.
- Meal Plan: Half Board meals throughout.
- All transfers and sightseeing arrangements by private coach/vehicles as per itinerary.
- Entry fee to museums and places of interest.
- Services of a local English speaking guide.
- Services of Prof. Mike Searle and and Mr Bruce Levell as trip scholars.
- Full ATOL and ABTA bonding.
- Tourist Visa fee for Oman.
- Camera/video entrance fees if applicable.
- Other services not clearly indicated in the package inclusions above.
- Tips & gratuities for guides, drivers and hotel staff.
- Travel Insurance*
Sightseeing arrangements, visits to geological sites may vary according to local circumstances at each place on a day to day basis. Trip scholars may decide to alter the programme where they feel it is necessary.
Please note: Please note due to the ongoing disruption in flight schedules and increases in fuel charges and air fares the international
carrier / routing may change.
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