Oman’s enchanting geology

If you’d been to Muscat Grand Mall on July 17 and 18, chances are, you came face to face with rocks enclosed in glass cases with different labels attached to them. You might be one of the hundreds who passed by them wondering what made them so special that they were treated like priceless gemstones and sitting side by side with beautiful photographs. You could have caught yourself trying to make out the neatly printed labels, wondering if the information therein was worthy of your time and as you move from stone to stone it would have dawned on you that there is so much you don’t know about Oman’s geological features and the very stones and rocks that make up the whole country.
Before, you think they weren’t that important and that apparently, there was nothing new for you to learn but as you chat with one of the members of the Geological Society of Oman (GSO) personnel, you come to realise that all the stones around you have names and that what they went through are just as interesting as the places where they were found.
The exhibition at Muscat Grand Mall called “Oman’s Enchanting Geology” was actually based from the book comprised of images taken by three photographers: Husam al Rawahi, who is a member of the Omani Geological Society and Ahmed al Shukaili and Omar al Busaidi, both members of the Photography Society of Oman.
What dominated the exhibition are geo-tourism photographs which included scenes from different wilayats of Oman, perhaps one of the most captivating is that from Wadi as Sahtan.
“The mountains of Wadi As Sahtan, not everyone knows, actually was formed for over 35 million years. You can imagine how much change that is in that timeframe,” one of the personnel shared.
“The geology of Oman represents a history of more than 800 million years and resembles almost all the chapters of tectonic events and climatic conditions throughout the Earth’s history,” added the personnel who directly lifted the quote from the group’s website.
GSO has long said that the Sultanate is a “paradise of geology” claiming that “the diverse and fascinating geology displayed on mountains, deserts, caves and wadis allows studying the details of both the continental and oceanic plates.”
Amjad Al Abri, one of the organizers from media committee, said that they are glad to open the exhibition to allow more people to see Omani environment and the rocks that comprise it.
Amjad and his team said that the collection on display also includes historical fossils like the elephant knee discovered in Dhofar believed to be 32 million years old and the origin of which can be traced back to the Oligocene period. There were also stromatolites believed to have been formed 700 million years ago thanks to a “one-of-a-kind bacteria.”
Absent, however, are the popular ophiolite, derived from the Greek ophis meaning serpent and lithos, meaning rock which appears plenty all over the country and many of which can also be found in Muttrah mountains.
For the parents of 7-year-old Kristoffer who can’t take his eyes off the elephant fossil, they were glad that the exhibit was held in an area that is accessible to everyone.
Both Mira and Sven shared that they are into outdoor activities and knowing a little bit about the composition of the mountains of Oman makes them appreciate the country more. Both are happy their son is liking geology.
The exhibit also included a few books sponsored and produced by GSO. Aside from Oman’s Enchanting Geology Book, there was also the Field Guide to the Geology of Northeastern Oman, the Geotourism Guide to the Sultanate of Oman among others. For anyone interested in the exhibition or to learn more about GSO and Oman’s geology, visit http://www.gso-oman.org for details.

YERU EBUEN & OMAIMA AL KINDI