During the school break in early October a group of students decided to take a Field Geology Course 1 (Mapping and Sedimentary Geology Field School). The course took place in Maliy Karatau, Southern Kazakhstan. Students spent 9-days mapping terrain, logging outcrops, and/or examining rocks from various Proterozoic to Cretaceous successions. Numerous geological phenomena were pointed and discussed. Furthermore, students had a great opportunity to demonstrate, utilize, and advance their knowledge and skills from pre-requisite courses in a very rich and diverse natural sedimentary laboratory. Placing collected data and observations in geological context was part of developing problem solving and critical thinking skills.
Geological highlights include superbly exposed text-book examples of i) transgressive lag deposit overlain by fining upwards cycle, MFS and multiple CU cycles (interpreted as basin fill) and topped by horizons of stromatolites (Chichkan Fm.); ii) great quantity of tidal sedimentary structures (Aktogay Fm. which we renamed to cross-bed heaven); iii) modern and ancient braided and meandering river deposits; iv) km-scales turbidite (Precambrian) and alternating/cyclic limestone-marl (Cambrian) packages; v) the abundance of fossils including Ordovician brachiopods and corals; vi) shallowing upward marine cycles; mixed carbonate-siliclastic sequences; paleo-soils; dolomitized and karstified limestone (local and regional); … granite intrusions and contact metamoprphism; continental scale strike-slip faulting (Karatau fault), rifting, normal faults, thrust-faults, superbly exposed 4-way dip anticlines; syncline-anticline pairs with series of “parasitic” syncline-anticline pairs on their tops and much more. All exposures were on margin of petroleum and uranium hosting Chu-Sarisu basin which allowed students discussing petroleum systems, fluid movements, exploration and production opportunities and challenge.
Students and participating staff are very thankful to School of Mining and Geoscience and the Nazarbayev University for this insightful field trip!