November 18, 2009

Fossil Hunting

Some people travel in style. Their car upholstery looks like they bought the car yesterday, and they only have a box of Kleenex on the dash board.
When you open my car, things roll out, and you first have to pick up the garbage from the floor before you can get in. My car looks like someone lives in it. Mind you, I only use it on the weekends.
Stacked to the roof, like a Syrian mini-bus.
That’s the same when we’re on the road; it’s like on one of those mini-busses from Syria is crossing your path. I’ve got s#*@ packed all the way up to the roof. I’m in this mind-set that anything could happen. Like extra sets of clothing (it's not that someone might fall in the water; in my family someone WILL fall in the water), a first-aid kit, (someone else will fall a hole in their head), food (someone is always hungry just when we pull out of a restaurant), a Swiss knife (never needed it), a Leatherman (never used either), and blankets (what if we get stuck somewhere overnight? Never happened, but what if?) . I’m sure I have more, like wet wipes, sun screen, you name it.
Bare mountains

This weekend we went biking. 4 kids (not all mine) and so 4 bikes. We went to Zaarour. Not all of Lebanon is nice to look at. There are some regions that are just… bare.
Zaarour is one of those places. I never understood the charm of the place, just like I don’t get it why people go up to Feraya in summer. To do what? There’s nothing there. Not one single tree.
A abandoned animal stable (?)

Zaarour has another odd thing; it’s a private mountain. I had never heard of anything like it before I came to Lebanon, but over here, you can actually by an entire mountain and then make it off-limits to everyone else. A group of people have organized themselves into a cooperation that has bought a mountain. They’ve installed ski-lifts, chalets, an infrastructure and a barrier. So only the owners can come and ski here. Faqra Club is another one of those resorts, where people have basically bought a mountain, or a hill, whatever you want to call it, and turned it into a private ski resort.
Like a bunch of red-necks; give them a puddle and they either throw stones in it or they'll pee in it.

So the upper mountain of Zaarour is off limits to everyone except the home owners. Why they never bothered to re-forest the region is beyond my comprehension. I understand that pine trees won’t grow there, because the soil does not contain enough iron (although pine trees grow all the way from Rabieh up to Bois de Boulogne, which is the entire region between Beirut and Zaarour), but you can plant something else, no?
So the hills are bare, and the mountain formation not very spectacular. But my SIL has a place there, and the kids wanted to picnic, but she has a 1.5 month old baby, so Zaarour was the most convenient ‘outdoor’ option.

Fossils; this bunch was found in under ten minutes by 4 children.

What we did discover, however, was a massive amount of fossils. Not fish fossils, but shell fish. Lebanon used to be a tropical sea, the Thethys sea. That was some 220 years ago. Look what we picked up in less than 10 minutes?

According to this site: Lebanon's geological structure dates from the Cretaceous and Jurassic periods (146 to 65 million years and 206 to 144 million years ago). Fossils obtained from Lebanon generally belong to these periods. In particular, much of the Lebanese mountains consist of sedimentary rocks that are ideal for the preservation of fossils. Rock strata close to the surface contain large numbers of coral and sponge beds, as well as the fossil skeletons of a range of Jurassic crustaceans.

An AUB sites states that The Lower Cretaceous sandstone (…) has a number of bivalves and gastropods in it, particularly at specific levels. There are some ammonites in the higher beds.(…) There a useful little guide book to local fossils is 'Les Fossiles du Liban: Guide Practique' by Arslan, S.; G├Ęze, R. and Abdul-Nour, H. published in 1995.
And so we ended up fossil hunting all afternoon. We sort of forgot about the bikes. Never mind that I carried 4 of them all the way up that darn mountain.


Darine said...

I though all citizens on the planet have conspired to keep their cars clean with that single Kleenex box. Thanks for sharing the insides of your car! It made me feel better about mine in the sense that I'm not alone :D

Ginette said...

Cannot agree more. I find that, the owner of the Kleenex boxes are 99% men ... They use (are able to use) their cars in a different way.
Thanks for another trip advice. I love emptiness and fossil hunting!

Chantal Akkary said...

My nephew would love to go Fossil Hunting!!