MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL–These are the shining faces of Team Israel 2013 of the Wooster Geology program. From the left is wind-challenged Lizzie Reinthal (’14) from Ohio, Oscar Mmari (’14) from Tanzania, and Steph Bosch (’14) from Pennsylvania (and soon to be an Arizonan). We arrived this afternoon in our destination town of Mitzpe Ramon in the Negev Highlands of southern Israel. This is our first geological stop: a short walk from the hotel to the northern rim of the magnificent Makhtesh Ramon, a deep erosional feature often called the “Grand Canyon of Israel”. If you look back in our Israel blog entries (such as this one) you’ll see this is a traditional setting for our first images! (And the students get their first geological examination on an Israeli outcrop.)
We are in Israel for two weeks pursuing research as part of Wooster’s Senior Independent Study program. Lizzie will be looking at the taphonomy of crinoids in the Jurassic Matmor Formation, Oscar will be studying the origin and economic value of an extensive set of Cretaceous phosphorites, and Steph will be studying rare but important bryozoan fossils from the Matmor Formation, which was deposited near the equator during the Jurassic.
Getting to this spot in the middle of the desert took lots of planning. (Thanks, Suzanne Easterling and Patrice Reeder!) Oscar flew to Tel Aviv from Tanzania via Ethiopia a few hours before us. I was worried about his connections and getting through immigration, but it worked out splendidly — Oscar was there to greet us as we emerged from the arrivals gate. We then packed into a rental car and drove south about three hours to Mitzpe Ramon. The weather is excellent — far cooler than the deserts today in the southwestern USA!