Saturday, 3 October 2009

A walk in the heat




I've missed being out in the wilds with the Emirates Natural History Group so when the weekly email came and suggested a walk in the vicinity of Jabal Hafit, I was in. There's something about the Jabal that fascinates me. It's the highest point in this area and a mix of geology that's astounding. I also knew that Brien, who was leading the walk, would know the answer to some of my questions regarding the geology of this place.

An extract from the email that explains better than I can where we went:

Wadi Nahayan is a remarkable geological feature on Jebel Hafit, one
that was threatened by a development project. In recent months, we
have been supporting initiatives to have some hiking trails
established in the area. It is also an area we have used for field
trips for students.

The hiking trail will follow one of the ridges over to a hidden bowl.
From there, we will head for one of the 'waterfalls' , a geological
feature created by water streaming down the northern face of Jebel
Hafit.

The field trip will be of interest to those interested in the geology of
Jebel Hafit. Wadi Nahayan extends along the boundary between two of
the key geological plates in the area.

Al Ain has some amazing rock formations, razor back ridges seemingly pushed up out of the ground. Alongside these run the wadis. Google Maps shows this clearly. I've written earlier about the abandoned restaurant on top of one of these ridges, it's now gone and there's apparently going to be a hotel built in it's place. It will have a commanding view of the surrounding area, although I wasn't sure of the stability of the site.

One of my questions was about how these ridges were formed. My thoughts were that they had been pushed up by some long ago earthquakes and plate shifts. These thoughts were supported by the fact that Al Ain is on a fault line and there is geothermal activity at the base of the Jabal. Not so Brien tells us. The ridges were left when the mountain that sat where Al Ain now sits eroded away. Similar to the fairy chimneys in central Turkey. This happened when this part of the world was still under the sea, evidenced by the amazing fossils littered about the area. Maybe the ridges are more stable that they look.

We drove to the Green Mubazzarah, a man made green area where families gather to picnic and enjoy the geothermal pools. It was packed as we drove through as the days are getting a little cooler, just right for a late afternoon picnic. My new 4wd came in handy as we bumped along a metal road to the start of the walk, under 80 kms on the clock and it's already dusty and been off the main roads. No self respecting New Zealander would call it 4 wheel driving, but it was fun.

My coffee table bowl now has some additions, quartz crystals and some chert of different colors. I suspect I'm going to need a larger bowl quite soon. The photos are from the start of the walk looking down over the Green Mubazzarah; a rock with fossils, mostly shells; and the terrain.

After several failed attempts, I'll load the photos separately. I must get my connection sorted, another job for today.

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