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Geological trip to the yew-boxwood grove

Geological trip to the yew-boxwood grove

To the depth of time

The famous Russian resort Sochi and surrounding areas have a lot of interesting geological objects such as karst massifs, tectonic faults, canyons, gorges, caves, river valleys, sea-shore terraces, mountain chains, glaciers, mountains, rocks, beaches, etc. This is a mega-anticlinorium – an enormous anticlinal fold-block structure. In the core of this fold, you can see ancient and solid rocks including various gneisses, granitoid, quartzites, metamorphic schists, conglomerates, marbles.

The geological trip to the yew-boxwood grove was held for students as a part of the “Effective Reservoir Management” course. The grove is a part of the Caucasian State Natural Biosphere Reserve named after H.G. Shaposhnikov, included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. 

Being here you feel like you have entered a different geological time: a preglacial period flora, trees covered with mosses, ferns, mushroom-flowers, lianas, berries (more than 500 species of plants in total). There are rocks of all ages – from the ancient pre-Cambrian and Paleozoic, formed during the beginning of life on Earth, to the rocks of Quaternary age, which formation was witnessed by man. 

The yew-boxwood grove is located along the Khosta river flowing through the great tectonic fault and auxiliary perpendicular faults.  The geology is composed of the deposits of Jurassic and Cretaceous periods (195-140 million years ago), i.e. the time of dinosaurs domination on the Earth.

Sedimentary and volcanic rocks confirm that this was the location of ancient oceanic reefs. There are shales, limestones, sandstones, mudstones, and other rocks on the surface. The remains of corals, mollusks, sea lilies, bryozoans, sponges, sea urchins, starfish, and algae are often found in the Jurassic limestones of the area.

The purpose of the trip was to see and explore the outcrops of ancient rocks. The tour participants overcame the “Big circle” trail and walked along the rocks to the "Devil's Canyon". There are a lot of interesting sights on the way: “Tectonic labyrinth” (rocky landslide), “Deep beam” (ancient crust fracture), which originated 20 million years ago during the Akhun mountain range raising. The rocky terrain remains of strong earthquake that fractured the strata. 

The crack with a size of over 100 meters was investigated. The rock run direction is also interesting. In a few dozen meters the geological picture is quite variable: rock stratification is reversed or completely lost sometimes. All this indicates a variety of geological processes that took place in this region.

Reaching the final waypoint, the participants watched the picturesque canyon with the mountain Khosta river running through. The river passes through the limestone layers, and the coastal walls height reaches 50 m at this point. What is interesting is that at this tourist site these rocks are commonly found on the surface, while 300 km from Sochi at a depth of about 6000 m the same rocks contain oil and gas deposits.

The huge influence of the Arabia plate on the Eurasian in the end of the Neogene period led to the Caucasus Mountains formation and small islands lifting. This was accompanied by various geological processes and forms such as hade and reversed faults, crustal folding, etc. It is surprising that this process continues today – the mountains grow about 2 cm per year.

Geological trip is a perfect way to visualize the object of study for understanding the ways rocks occur, wells are drilled, and what features industrial operation has.

During the study the theoretical knowledge was consolidated by the observation of sedimentation processes, faults, stratigraphic and structural traps formation, rock stratification, etc.