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Semail Opiolite

Even though our meeting was devoted to alluvial fans, and I was there peripherally for big dunes, a major highlight of this trip was getting up close and personal with the world-famous Semail Ophiolite. This nearly complete sequence of lower crust, seafloor basalts, gabbros and subcrustal mantle lithosphere can be seen along the east coast of the UAE and northern Oman. We began at a quarry that exposed chunks of serpentinite from the seafloor crustal section. We continued driving into the mountains, dark grey/black and rugged. These are nearly entirely made of peridotite, basically the mantle and thus very rare in outcrop on land. The road followed a fracture that put the peridotite next to lower crustal schist, bright grey and luminous, contrasting with the adjacent dark hills. I felt like I was in the bowels of the Earth. We had a stop along the way at the Friday market, and I resisted shopping for carpets and brightly died cacti in favor of looking at some eroded deposits at the base of the ophiolites. We'd planned to lunch near some spectacular fans, but these were being actively covered by road construction, so we went down to the beach instead. We wrestled with some local flies and beat them out for a tasty and traditional lunch of whole goat over rice. I was even talked into a little taste of brains.. We also spent some time on an Indian Ocean beach, with carbonate/ophiolite sands. It was a spectacular day.

GPS track of drive on Google Earth:

Download the .kHz file

All pics are below.

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Please credit Jani Radebaugh, thank you!