Oman Field Seminar

Aramco Americas facilitates geology field seminar

The sixth such joint field seminar between Aramco, KFUPM, and Stanford University focused on modern and ancient outcrops in Oman.

Aramco Americas facilitates geology field seminar

Geology students and faculty from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) and Stanford University and geologists from Aramco and Aramco Americas conducted a joint field seminar from Nov. 13 to 19 in Oman.


This field seminar included studies of the petroleum systems and related geology of Oman in a wide variety of environmental settings of various geologic ages. Oman is noteworthy for excellent exposures of modern and ancient outcrops of complex geology and reservoir analogs relevant to Aramco operations.


The group convened for a welcoming dinner in Muscat, where participants received a safety briefing for the field excursion before an early flight to Duqm the next morning. From there, the group made its way back to Muscat in SUVs driven by logistics specialists from the Shuram Group. 


Facilitated by Gretchen Gillis of the Aramco Americas Upstream Technical Support Division, the group of 30 gained hands-on experience in a wide variety of geological settings while fostering ongoing collaboration between the company and the two universities.

On the first full day in the field, a team exercise focusing on the effects of glaciation on sedimentation brought participants closer together. The teams — composed of students, faculty, and professionals — spent approximately 30 minutes examining portions of a large outcrop of the Khufai and Al Khlata Formations before the group reconvened to walk the entire outcrop and share interpretations.


An important lesson in field work is that geologists can argue for different interpretations, provided they cite observations or data, and behave respectfully.


On subsequent days, the group interpreted spectacular geology from Precambrian stromatolites — primitive microorganisms that can form excellent hydrocarbon reservoirs — to a modern sabkha at Bar Al Hikman. Thanks to the participation of experts in carbonate and clastic sediments, Earth history and paleobiology, and petroleum geology, and guided by retired Aramco Americas geologist Tim Diggs, every stop provided excellent experiential learning for all involved.


On the final field day, the group safely completed an arduous hike to study a world-famous exposure of the Semail Ophiolite in Wadi al Abyad, where the boundary between the Earth’s crust and the mantle — known as the Moho — is exposed.


Along the way, the group learned about Middle Eastern culture through conversations between natives of Saudi Arabia and participants from Egypt, France, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sudan, Turkey, the USA, and Yemen. Many members of the group have connected on social media so that they can exchange photographs and keep in contact about projects of interest.


Caption for top photo: Geologists from Aramco, KFUPM, and Stanford University examine sand-rich, shallow marine deposits of the Cambrian Amin Formation in Wadi Sumaynah.


— By Gretchen Gillis and Meredith Faber

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