My Desert Adventures

'Foggy' our trusty Range Rover

I lived in Saudi Arabia for 7 years when I was little – I went out in 1989, and came back in 1996. I can remember going out into the desert with my family and our trusty 1984 left hand drive white Range Rover ‘Foggy’ (which we still have). I can also remember camping Hamilton-style, with camp beds, sleeping bags, pillows, my teddy (who I still have), travel stove, gas bottle, travel kettle… but no tent! The drives on the tarmac road seemed never-ending as the road just appears out of the mirage in the distance, the one that needed sweeping off because the sandstorms obscured it from time to time and the one that took me on all these adventures. I can remember, quite distinctly, going out to the wide open space of the Arabian Peninsula, where there’s ‘nothing’ but sand and sky and looking for sharks teeth (and boy, did we find em!). I marvelled at why there were sharks teeth in the desert – we lived in Riyadh, nowhere near the sea! So how did they get there? Since when did sharks live in the desert?

Having a pic-nic in the desert

I remember my dad taking us out to different parts of the desert, just to explore. We’d spend ages flying kites, sitting on the drop-down bit in the boot of ‘Foggy’ trying to find some shade. We’d watch the lizards scurry around, trying not to burn their feet on the sand, and the birds flying overhead trying to find dinner. I can remember the great big steep cliffs, with the layers that made them so prominent and jaggy and how some stuck out more than others, I now know that this is differential weathering, as some rocks are more competent than others. I also remember the drives through the wadis to find the next fossil hunting place.

The sedimentary cliffs in Saudi Arabia

Geology is a subject where you can learn so much – you can pick up a rock and work out so much stuff to do with Earth’s past. A fossil suddenly becomes much more than a fragment of shell or bone; it becomes a window to a time so long ago we can’t even imagine how long ago. It becomes evidence of how life once was – the conditions, the extent of the seas, and the location of the continents. A sedimentary rock can become a massive clue in telling us how rivers worked…are they similar to rivers today? What was the flow direction? How strong was the current? All these things can be identified by just looking at a rock! I love this subject, I love how something so inanimate, so mundane to some people can tell us so much more than we ever thought. I cannot wait to graduate, I want to get out there and do geology. I want my life to be one long field trip, full of awesomeness, rocks and of course….beer!

Written by
Laura Hamilton
University of Birmingham Geology Student

You can also follow her personal blog at The Geology Shop.

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