February 1982 -June 1982


Soil Scientist

Oman Soil Surveys

Haloxylon salicornicum

The Oman Soil Surveys were undertaken for Government by Groundwater Development Consultants (GDC) - this was an official consortium comprising staff from Hunting Technical Services Ltd (UK) and Mott MacDonald and Partners (MMP). Pre-mobilisation desk study in the UK comprised some broad API work in some pre-selected areas as a form of reconnaissance study.

In-country, there were three surveyors A. A. Hutcheon, W. B. Kerr and A. R. A. Stapleton with S. Western as Team Leader. The surveyors initially worked alone in separate areas but did laterally work together. Survey was to detailed level and followed a free survey basis on a grid - that is observations where required and not at pre-determined points on a grid.

The author carried out :

The first step once the site has been selected is to dig a normal profile pit to the desired depth (150 - 200cm)

The basic sample shape is cut back in the face of the profile pit, as shown below

A box (in this case constructed of heavy plywood) is then fitted over the pillar of soil and held tightly against the soil

A further excavation is then done to expose the full sample (pillar of soil) and it is held into the box by tightly wrapping in bandages from the top as it is exposed - the "bandages comprising long pieces of cheap cloth

The entire sample is then man-handled out of the pit

Once transported back to the field camp the section is thoroughly dried before any pre-treatment is done

The section is then impregnated with a solution of fixative diluted with paint thinners - specialised fixatives can be obtained but polyurethane varnish can be used

Only sufficient fixative is added to allow safe transport of the section to specialist laboratories for full preservation and storage

The samples collected on the Oman Soil Surveys were taken to and displayed at the International Soil Museum, Wageningen, The Netherlands

Once the section (monolith) is removed from the profile it is trimmed back to fit tightly inside the plywood box used for storage / transportation

Trimming is done with hand tools; knives, chisels and, what was often the most useful, a paint-scraper

Care must be taken not to be too rough to avoid damage to the structure of the sample - this is very difficult when the sample contains coarse mater such as gravel and stones

Once the sample top is level with the edges of the box a further lid is then screwed down to protect the sample and help strengthen the box



Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Oman and

Hunting Technical Services (HTS) Limited (now htspe)

Thamesfield House, Boundary Way

Hemel Hempstead, Herts. HP2 7SR


Oman Soil Surveys, 1982. Detailed soil and groundwater survey and land capability classification of the Buraimi, Kamil-Wafi and Wadi Quriyat areas.

Copy of draft report also held on WOSSAC