|Kirstin was travelling with fellow assessor |
Mona Holte from Norway
The preparations beganMy initial fear was quickly replaced with excitement as the preparation got underway, with visa applications, vaccinations, insurance, a whole new wardrobe to satisfy the strict cultural requirements, as well as the actual work that I was being sent there to do. As a UNESCO Global Geopark evaluator, I was being asked to visit the Qeshm Island Geopark to see if it met the required standard to become a UNESCO Global Geopark. The application dossier gave me all the information that I needed to know as well as giving me a lot that I still needed to find out, after all that's why the evaluation mission was happening in the first place.
From Tehran to Qeshm IslandThe journey to Qeshm Island was a long one as I had to first of all travel to Tehran before making my way south. But Tehran was not without its attractions and I was fortunate to be able to spend half a day exploring the sites with our colleagues from the Geological Survey of Iran who were to accompany us on our entire journey. I also had the chance to at least partially acclimatise to the intense heat that I was due to experience. I arrived in Qeshm Island, late at night and was instantly met with what can only be described as a wave of steam as I got off the plane. With a temperature of around 39oC at 11pm and a humidity of about 90%, it was likened to an outdoor sauna.
|Visiting Chahkooh Gorge.|
Internationally important geologyQeshm Island is located in the Persian Gulf, off the southern coast of Iran. It is part of the Zagros Mountain Range made up of rocks from the Late Precambrian to Cambrian periods. One of the common features within this range are salt domes that form as salt intrudes into overlying sediments causing them to deform and doming to occur. The Namakdan Salt Complex is one such dome in Qeshm Island and is home to the world's longest salt cave at a distance of 6500m. The majority of the other geological features are formed within much younger Oligo-Miocene sedimentary rocks, and are visible as impressive erosional landforms usually as river canyons such as the one at Chahkooh Gorge. I was taken to visit all of these important geosites and was able to assess not only the geological significance but also the visitor access, the interpretation and the conservation objectives for each one. All of which are an important element of a UNESCO Global Geopark.
More than just geology
|One of the many Women's Co-operatives on Qeshm Island.|
A cultural eye-opener
|Eating dinner on the floor!|
Mission completeMy trip to Iran, albeit very short was a real cultural eye-opener, and was completely unexpected, especially given my initial reaction. It just goes to show how much the media influences your opinion. As for a UNESCO Global Geopark on Qeshm Island, well the evaluation report has been submitted to UNESCO so we'll just have to wait and see!