GUtech alumna wins award for her video about fossils (Rudists) from Oman at Friedrich-Alexander University, Germany

HALBAN Najat Al Fudhaili, GUtech alumna in BSc Applied Geosciences and a passionate about fossils has won the first prize in the Science Communication Competition held at the Friedrich-Alexander University (FAU) in Erlangen/Nürnberg (Germany) recently. Najat was awarded for her best script and the best filmmaking. In her short film entitled “Cretaceous bivalve longevity, growth rate and potential as an archive for environmental reconstructions,” she represents her Bachelor project. She came up with an idea using easy terms that can be understood by the general public and non-palaeontologists maintaining the scientific concepts. “The idea of my project is to study three different fossil species of a bizarre bivalve group, so-called ‘Rudists’ and to estimate their growth rate and longevity. Also, by considering that these kinds of fossils tend to store their life history in their shells, they can help in reconstructing the paleoclimate and reveal under which sort of environmental conditions they tend to grow”. Najat recently graduated from GUtech and now continues her geology and palaeontology studies in Germany within the MSc-programme at FAU. Her current research involves geochemical measurements on shells in Germany and in Italy, which allow temperature reconstructions for the Cretaceous time, some 100 million years ago, when the Sultanate of Oman was covered by a tropical shallow sea.

To watch Najat’s video please visit the following website:

https://www.fau.de/2019/11/news/studium/filmreife-geowissenschaftliche-forschung/

© GUtech: Photo provided by FAU/Boris Mijat

GUtech Commemorates 7th Anniversary of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Visit

The German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) commemorated on Tuesday 24th December the 7th anniversary of the visit of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said to its campus.

The 24th of December marks the private visit of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said to GUtech campus in Halban. The commemoration of the private visit of His Majesty is annually observed by GUtech community. Students and staff remember the day to reflect on the importance of the visit in GUtech’s history and on the vision of His Majesty the Sultan for Oman’s academic and research development.

In the late afternoon of December 24th, 2012, the founders of GUtech and members of the rectorate welcomed his majesty to GUtech campus and its facilities, few weeks only after its opening.

In visiting GUtech campus and meeting the founders and the rectorate, His Majesty confers upon it an unusual distinction. “We welcome His Majesty’s private visit to GUtech campus as a gracious expression of his trust in our university and a vital catalyser enticing us to work harder and faster for further progress” proudly declares Dr Hussain Al Salmi, Deputy Rector for Administration and Finance.

The significant and ever-lasting contributions His Majesty has made to Oman and to the lives of its people are universally known; not less impressive than the wise introduction of far-reaching reforms which has promoted the development of the education system, and the prosperity of the country in general.

As more as 3000 male and female students enrolled in the university in the last 12 years. More than 400 male and female students graduated from it while there are more than 2200 male and female students are currently pursuing their studies.

(c) GUtech/Text: Fatima El Madkouri

New Research Explores the Infiltration of Flash Flood Water

Due to its arid and semi-arid climate, the Sultanate of Oman is suffering from scarcity of water. Therefore, it is important to capture water from floods before it discharges into the sea or evaporates. “Unfortunately, every year Oman loses 120 million m3 of freshwater as runoff to the sea, according to the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources. In order to harvest flood water, around 50 recharge dams were built in Oman,” said Prof. Dr. Ekkehard Holzbecher, Professor for Hydrogeology at German University of Technology (GUtech), who has been leading a research project on flood management for several years. In order to measure the rate of infiltrating water, a field experiment is currently operated at the campus of GUtech. The experiment consists of a 100-meter long channel with one-meter width and depth. “An artificial flood is created by injecting water from a tanker. Several hi-tech sensors are installed in the soil and in the flowing water in order to estimate the amount of water, which infiltrates into the ground and which partially evaporates before reaching the deeper-lying groundwater reservoir (aquifer). Moreover, the flow rate is measured in the inlet and the outlet of the channel,” said Prof. Holzbecher. The experiment is funded by a GUtech seed grant and supervised by Prof. Dr Ekkehard Holzbecher and Dr. Ahmed Hadidi of the Applied Geoscience Department (AGEO) at GUtech. As part of their team project course, fourth-year students of the AGEO Department are involved as well. 

 

“Huge tsunami hit Oman 1,000 years ago”: concluded by a recent study

A natural event of similar magnitude would have devastating consequences today, warn researchers at the University of Bonn, Germany.

Prof. Dr. habil. Gösta Hoffmann from the University of Bonn (Germany) who has been teaching as a fly-in professor at the Applied Geosciences Department, German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech), has published a scientific paper along with his colleagues from the universities of Bonn, Jena, Freiburg and RWTH Aachen in the international scientific journal ‘Marine Geology’.

15-meter high waves that pushed boulders the weight of a Leopard tank inland: This is more or less how one can imagine the tsunami that hit the coast of today’s Sultanate of Oman about 1,000 years ago, as concluded by the recent study. The findings show how urgently the region needs a well-functioning early warning system. But even then, coastal residents would have a maximum of 30 minutes to get to safety in a similar catastrophe. The study will be published in the journal “Marine Geology”, but is already available online http://paleoseismicity.org/quaternary-sea-level-change-along-the-coastline-of-oman/.

Oman lies in the east of the Arabian Peninsula. The coasts of the Sultanate are repeatedly struck by tsunamis, most recently in 2013. Even with the most severe of these in recent times, the Makran event in 1945, the damage remained comparatively low. Back then, the tidal wave reached a height of three meters.

The scientists have now discovered evidence of a tsunami which is likely to have been much more powerful, with waves of up to 15 meters. For this purpose, the researchers from Bonn, Jena and Aachen concentrated their terrain investigations on a 200-kilometer coastal strip in northeastern Oman. “There we identified 41 large boulders, which were apparently carried inland by the force of the water,” explains Prof. Gösta Hoffmann from the Institute for Geosciences at the University of Bonn.

Quartz clock in the rock

Some of the boulders were probably formed when the tsunami shattered parts of the cliffs; for one of them, the largest weighing around 100 metric tons, scientists were even able to determine the exact point at which it broke off. Others show traces of marine organisms such as mussels or oysters that cannot survive on land. “Certain methods can be used to determine their time of death,” says the geologist Gösta Hoffmann. “This allowed us to establish when the boulders were washed ashore.”

The quartz crystals in the rock also represent a kind of clock: They provide information about the last time they were exposed to the sun. This allowed the scientists to deduce how long the rocks had been in the place where they were found. The scientists from Freiburg are specialists in this method. “Many of these measurements gave us a value of about 1,000 years,” emphasizes Prof. Hoffmann. “This corresponds well with the dating results of clay fragments we found in tsunami sediments. They originate from vessels used by coastal dwellers.”

The Arabian and Eurasian tectonic plates collide in the Arabian Sea. They move towards each other at a speed of about four centimeters per year. During this process, one plate slides beneath the other. Sometimes they get stuck in this subduction zone. This can cause tensions that intensify more and more over years and decades. If they suddenly come loose with a violent jolt, the water column above the plates starts to move. This can lead to the extremely destructive waves that are characteristic of tsunamis.

“So far it has been unclear to what extent the Arabian and Eurasian plates get stuck,” says Prof. Hoffmann. At the Makran event of 1945, for example, the effects were locally confined. The current findings, however, suggest that the tensions can also build up and unload on a very large scale – there is no other feasible explanation for the enormous forces at work at the time. “It is therefore extremely important that a tsunami early warning system is put in place for this region,” stresses the geologist.

Nevertheless, even a smaller tsunami would have devastating consequences today: A large part of the vital infrastructure in the Sultanate of Oman has been built near the coast, such as the oil refineries and seawater desalination plants. A well-functioning warning system can, however, at least give residents some time to get to safety. Not very much though: Tsunamis move at the speed of a passenger aircraft; in the best case, the time between the alarm and the wave’s impact would therefore be little more than 30 minutes.

Publication: Gösta Hoffmann, Christoph Grützner, Bastian Schneider, Frank Preusser and Klaus Reicherter: Large Holocene tsunamis in the northern Arabian Sea. Marine Geology, DOI: 10.1016/j.margeo.2019.106068

For more details please contact:

Dr. habil. Gösta Hoffmann,

Institute for Geosciences at the University of Bonn
Tel. +49 (0228) 73-4711
E-mail: ghoffman@uni-bonn.de

‘Understanding Carbonate Mudrocks’: Sedimentary Rocks That Produce Oil and Gas

A special lecture by Dr. John D. Humphrey at GUtech

Carbonate mudrocks are limestones that exist in many parts of Oman and elsewhere. The process of their formation and significance in different environments and their application within the oil and gas sector was explained yesterday by Prof. Dr. John D. Humphrey at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) as part of a special student lecture tour organized by the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE). Dr. Humphrey is from King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals in Saudi Arabia. He presented a lecture entitled “Understanding Carbonate Mudrocks” in the University’s Research Hall. According to Prof. Humphrey, Oman is a great place to study carbonate rocks, for both conventional carbonate systems and unconventional deep-water carbonates. During the lecture, case studies of mudstone/chalk reservoirs were presented. Carbonate mudrocks are made of calcium carbonates, many of which are so-called source rocks that produce and store reservoirs of oil and gas. They have been deposited millions of years ago as chalks, starting with the Jurassic age. These carbonate mudrocks are increasingly becoming the targets of unconventional petroleum system exploration and development. These deposits are important for both conventional and unconventional petroleum systems. Amal Al Hajri, 4th year student in Applied Geosciences said that Prof. Humphrey’s talk helped her to plan for her thesis. “I would like to include chalks in my Bachelor thesis studies,” she said.

Prof. Humphrey visited Oman in 2002 for the first time from the USA. He has more been recently working at KFUPM, and has been a regular visitor for summer school excursions with his students. “There are many amazing, remarkable geological exposures in Oman,” he said. He and his students and other professors usually visit and explore different rock formations in Jebel Shams, Wadi Tiwi, Salalah, and other sites in Oman every summer. There are plans to have joint summer excursions with GUtech in future.

Dr. John D. Humphrey is Associate Professor and Assistant Chairman of Geosciences at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. His appointment is in the Department of Geosciences, within the College of Petroleum Engineering and Geosciences. Prof. Humphrey received his Ph.D. degree from Brown University/ USA in Geological Sciences. Prior to joining KFUPM in 2017, he spent 25 years on the faculty of Geology and Geological Engineering at Colorado School of Mines in USA. He was Head of Department for seven years there.

His areas of specialisation include carbonate diagenesis and geochemistry, carbonate sedimentology and stratigraphy, carbonate reservoir characterization, unconventional carbonate reservoirs, stable isotope geochemistry, and paleoclimatology. He has been a consultant to the oil and gas and mining industries for thirty years. Dr. Humphrey is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and a Trustee Associate of the American Association of Petroleum.

‘Understanding Carbonate Mudrocks’ – An EAGE lecture by Prof Dr. John Humphrey

HALBAN As part of a student lecture tour organized by the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE), Prof. Dr. John D. Humphrey, King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, will give a lecture on “Understanding Carbonate Mudrocks”. The lecture will be held at GUtech on Monday, 21 October. “We are looking forward to an interesting talk by an internationally renown carbonate rock specialist. Carbonate mudrocks are of specific interest to Oman and the wider region as source rocks for oil and gas. Prof. Humphrey has been extensive teaching, research and consultancy experience within the oil and gas and mining industries,” said Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer, Head of the Department of Applied Geosciences at GUtech.

Fine-grained, mud-dominated, carbonate rocks can form in a variety of sedimentary environments. While sub-environments of shallow-water tropical carbonate systems are capable of producing muddy facies, this talk focuses on predominantly pelagic carbonates in slope and basin settings. Increasingly, such carbonate mudrocks are becoming the targets of unconventional petroleum system exploration and development. Basinal accumulations of pelagic carbonate (either platform or open ocean derived) can be associated with anoxic to suboxic conditions conducive to preservation of marine organic matter. These organic-rich carbonate mudrocks tend to be brittle and are therefore viable targets for hydraulic fracturing completions. Other carbonate mudrock systems are economically important conventional reservoirs, such as the Upper Cretaceous to Paleogene chalks of the North Sea. The lecture will consider the sedimentology and diagenesis of pelagic carbonates, including ecological controls on carbonate production, chemical controls on carbonate accumulation, and the effects of burial diagenesis on carbonate mudrock reservoir quality. Case studies of mudstone/chalk reservoirs will be presented.

Dr. John D. Humphrey is Associate Professor and Assistant Chairman of Geosciences at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. His appointment is in the Department of Geosciences, within the College of Petroleum Engineering and Geosciences. His areas of specialization include carbonate diagenesis and geochemistry, carbonate sedimentology and stratigraphy, carbonate reservoir characterization, unconventional carbonate reservoirs, stable isotope geochemistry, and paleoclimatology. He has been a consultant to the oil and gas and mining industries for thirty years. Dr. Humphrey is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and a Trustee Associate of the American Association of Petroleum.

Prof. Humphrey received his B.S. degree in Geology at the University of Vermont, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated Cum Laude. Dr. Humphrey received his M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees from Brown University in Geological Sciences. He was on the faculty of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Dallas from 1986 to 1991. Beginning in 1991, Dr. Humphrey was a professor of Geology and Geological Engineering at Colorado School of Mines. He was twice awarded the Alumni Teaching Award for the top educator at CSM (1998, 2014). He served as Department Head from 2006 to 2013. From 2013 to 2015, he was Interim Director of the CSM Chevron Center of Research Excellence. He retired from Mines in 2015 and joined KFUPM in 2017.

Caption: Late Permian Khuff Formation, a seqence of muddy limestones and marls, northern Huqf, Oman.

 

Technical Workshop on the Underground Storage for Hydrogen in Oman held at RWTH Aachen

HALBAN A technical workshop on the underground storage for hydrogen gas in Oman was held in July at GUtech’s German partner-university, RWTH Aachen University. The workshop was held in preparation for the Oman Hydrogen Initiative. „An efficient storage and buffer systems for hydrogen are essential for a large scale production and application of green hydrogen,” said the Rector of GUtech, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Michael Modigell. In addition Prof Dr. Wilfried Bauer, Head of the Department of Applied Geosciences participated in the workshop. Prof. Peter Kukla, Dean of the Faculty of Georesources and Materials Engineering at RWTH Aachen University, Prof. Dr. Janos Urai, Professor of Structural Geology and Tectonics at RWTH Aachen University and fly-in professor at GUtech, and Prof. Dr. Hartmut Krause from TU Freiburg (Germany) as well as Dr. Bernd Wiemann and Gunther Weber from Hydrogen Rise participated in the one day workshop.

During the workshop, Prof. Bauer gave an overview of the Geology of Oman and research that is currently conducted at GUtech. Prof. Krause from TU Freiburg explained the HYPOS project on hydrogen storage in caverns, its framework conditions and the planned project work. According to Prof. Wilfried Bauer there are six exposed salt domes of Ediacaran/Cambrian Ara salt in the central Ghaba Salt basin in the South of Oman. Main source rocks, so called Cryogenian-Cambrian Huqf Supergroup are the oldest source rock for oil and gas. Further research is required to identify the best reservoirs for the storage of hydrogen which could be either an empty old gas reservoir or a cavern within one of the salt domes of Oman.

© GUtech/ Dr. Manuela Gutberlet and Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer

 

Current Situation and Future Direction of Mineral Resources Education in Oman discussed during the Oman Mining Expo

During the Oman Mining Expo 2019 which is currently held at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre, Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer, Head of the Department of Applied Geosciences at GUtech and Prof Dr. Frank Mattern from Sultan Qaboos University gave a presentation entitled: ‘Current Situation and Future Direction of the Mineral Resources Education in Oman’.

“With a growing mineral resources industry in Oman the demand for well-trained graduates and post-graduates in the field of geosciences will increase over the next years” said Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer. Therefore, applied geoscientists play a key role through the lifetime of a mining project that can take up to 20 years. Graduates in Applied Geosciences as well as specialist in Economic Geology, Geophysics, Geochemistry, and Geoengineering will have ample opportunities in the mining sector.

Over the next 5 years, approximately 70-80 graduates will graduate from both universities in Oman each year. According to internal surveys conducted at GUtech , up to 30% of these graduates consider continuing with Master studies abroad or in Oman. However, this number strongly depends on the availability of financial support for Master degrees. In countries with a developed mining industry, e.g. in the United States, the ratio between academically trained workforce in the mineral industry is 1 PhD-holder versus 2.2 Masters versus 6.5 Bachelor graduates. Taking into consideration that Oman’s basement is still underexplored, it is recommended that a high number of post-graduates can adjust standard mining methods and develop exploration programmes in largely greenfield settings.

“From a higher education perspective, a lack of mining engineers has been identified. This could be a bottleneck for future developments of the industry. During the last years, global employment rates of mining engineers were above 95%  which means there are limited open job opportunities on the global job market. From the side of the job seekers, Omani graduates are currently focusing on jobs in the oil and gas industry. It will be a challenge to create more interest in jobs in the mineral industry and attract the brightest minds” said Prof. Wilfried Bauer.

Currently only two higher education institutions in Oman, Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) and the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech), provide advanced education for the mining industry. The education in the mineral resource sector covers principal courses in Mineralogy, Mineral Resources and Mineral Exploration at the bachelor level. Courses in Ore Mineralogy, Orebody Modelling, Mineral Production & Processing are part of a recently introduced or running Master curricula at GUtech.

The objective of the two-day mining conference is to provide a venue for the industry as well as regulators to discuss various issues and challenges as well as to explore emerging opportunities and latest developments in Oman’s mining and minerals sector.

 

Wadi clean-up organised by Applied Geosciences students

HALBAN Fourteen female students from the German University of Technology (GUtech) conducted a 10-day fieldtrip to explore and study the geology of Oman. They were guided by Prof Dr. Gösta Hoffmann from Bonn University in Germany. Prof. Dr. Gösta is a geosciences expert in the field; he has run several international projects and has been granted the national research award for his work by The Research Council (TRC). The fieldtrip logistics were professionally organised by Golden Highlands, the leading geo-tourism company in Oman.

For the students the trip was a once in a lifetime experience. Most of them have never camped outside before. Another breath-taking experience was the mountain scenery the students saw when travelling in 4-wheel cars along small gravel roads through the mountains. “Driving through Wadi Bani Awf was amazing, extraordinary and exciting for me,“ said Alaa al Mahdouri, 7th semester Geoscience student. One of the better known spectacular places that the group visited was Wadi al Abbyad. Prof Gösta explained: “Wadi al Abbyad is special for a variety of reasons: it is a perennial river, meaning it flows all year. Because of this there are very special animals and plants. Furthermore, it is an extraordinary place in terms of geology. It is probably the best place in the world to actually see the interior of the planet earth. In other countries such a place would already be recognised as a National Park. As far as I know such initiatives are under way but at the moment the place has a severe issue with rubbish. People come here for picnic and leave everything behind. Luckily the younger generation is aware of the problem and the group of 14 female GUtech students started a wadi clean-up.” Aziza al Jahwari lined out: “I felt so bad to see all this rubbish in such a wonderful place. I felt much better when we started to collect the rubbish.” Shatha al Gahfri asked “Until we do not care about our planet and until when will people think this is a normal behaviour? If everyone takes his own rubbish and takes a little bit more, we will solve this issue.”

As part of the field-trip, the group of students collected 237 kg of rubbish. Most of the items collected were clearly related to picnic activities, a problem that can be easily solved. „It is the second clean-up organised by Golden Highlands, after a beach clean-up last year with the professors from the German Geological Association (DGGV).” said Prof. Dr. Gosta. “It is our company’s responsibility to keep these places and our country clean. We therefore are an eco-friendly tour company in Oman. We try to minimise the amount of rubbish during the trips as much as possible. We do not distribute soft drinks in cans and water in plastic bottles. We provide solutions for refill and the customers use one mug through the trip. This mug they even take home as a souvenir. We also avoid plastic bags when shopping for groceries but use our own re-useable Golden Highland bags. Funny enough, people want to buy our bags as well instead of using plastic bags. We might even think of a business opportunity here,” said Mansoor al Shabibi, CEO of Golden Highlands.

“The clean-up was very successful and I am very happy that this initiative was organised by the students themselves”, concluded Prof Gösta. The logistics for the wadi clean-up was supported by Golden Highlands. Mansoor al Shabibi: “As the leading geo-tourism company in the country, operating for more than 10 years now, we know that the deserts, mountains, wadis and beaches are the unique resources that our business is based on. People come from all over the world to see and study these places. If we spoil them, we lose our unique selling point. Besides that, we harm our own country.”

Mubarak al Harrasi, group supervisor of Golden Highlands said: “I am happy to be in company with the students, these are open-minded ladies, I feel like their brother. We usually cater for international guests, but it is a very rewarding job to show our local people the beauties of the country. On these trips we usually travel to very remote areas that most people have not believed to exist in Oman.”

GUtech students win the third place in the AAPG Imperial Barrel Award

HALBAN Five Applied Geosciences students have won the third place in the prestigious AAPG Imperial Barrel Award semifinals that were held at GUtech in the past days. The students who are studying in the their final year in Applied Geosciences had to solve different geological tasks in groups such as analyzing a data set including geology, geophysics, production infrastructure, and other relevant materials for an oil exploration in the North Sea. “Our GUtech team with Anwaar, Jahina, Omer, Sara, and Shihab won the third place which is a great success, they worked very hard and achieved results that normally can only be expected on the level of Master Students,” said Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer, Head of the Department of Applied Geosciences. The Department of Applied Geosciences has been hosting the annual event for the first time. On the second day, all students from competing universities participated in an excursion through the Oman Mountains, led by Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer and Prof. Dr. Ivan Callegari, where they had a chance to study typical reservoir and source rocks of the Arabian Platform and their structural styles in the field.

Each team had to deliver their results in a 25-minute presentation to a panel of industry experts and professors. Students had the chance to use state of the art technology on a real dataset, receive feedback from an industry panel of judges, network with potential employers in the audience, and win cash awards for their school. The judges selected the winning team on the basis of the technical quality, clarity and originality of presentation. The AAPG Imperial Barral Award is a hands-on opportunity for students to experience the creative process and the high-tech science that is the foundation of the Energy Industry today.

Students from Sultan Qaboos University (Oman) won the first place followed by the Lebanese University (Lebanon). The winning team will participate in the final competition to be held in Texas (USA). Students from King Abdulaziz University, Hashemite University, the University of Jordan, Kuwait University, United Arab Emirates University and Yarmouk University participated in the competition.

(c) GUtech/ Dr. Manuela Gutberlet and AGEO Department