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Sergeant Yonis Lone Eagle from the Rocky Mountain Federation here writing to yall from Camp Virginia in Kuwait. We reported to our unit on Christmas day and left for the Middle East on the 26th of December. We are here at a staging area with over 5000+ other U.S. troops and coalition forces from at least a half a dozen countries waiting for our turn for a flight north into Iraq. I'm currently assigned to the 228th Combat Support Hospital as a senior Bio-Medical Equipment Technician or BMET. The 228th is from Fort Sam Houston, Texas. I will be stationed in Tikrit, Iraq where we will set up and operate a 44 bed field hospital to support our brave troops during "Operation Iraqi Freedom."
Being an avid Rockhound for almost forty years now, I find adventure in every new field I hunt in. But to go hunting for rocks and fossils in a foreign country called Iraq during the ongoing "War on Terrorism" is something totally different. One must be very careful not to step on any old forgotten land mines and to keep your head low for all the flying bullets. Therefore, I thought I would share my adventures with my fellow Rockhounds. I will be writing periodically on war, the geology and rock & fossils I find over here. I hope everyone will enjoy these stories and I look forward to your comments. This first report is more about the country that I will be working in for the next year. Hopefully it will give you a better idea of where I'm located.
A Big Texas HOWDY to all my fellow Rockhounds from Iraq...
This is Yonis Lone Eagle wishing each and every one of you a very Happy & Safe New Year. I'm over here in Iraq waiting to set up our field hospital and thinking about you all. I have already started collecting some rocks to bring back home. I will be sending updates for y'all to post in y'alls newsletters on "Rockhounding in a Combat Zone". It will be about the Geology of Iraq and what kind of rocks you can find over here when you're not dodging bullets and bombs. Everyone take care and I will be sending more when I get settled in..
Your Fellow Rockhound... Yonis Lone Eagle.
With a current population of almost 25 million, Iraq is a very ancient country with its birth dating back to near the dawn of civilization almost 10,000 years ago. Some of the world's greatest ancient civilizations such as Assyria, Babylonia, and Sumer developed in the area of Iraq. It is bordered by Turkey to the north; Iran to the east; by the Persian Gulf, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia to the south; and Jordan and Syria to the west. The physical geography is made up of a combination of arid sandy rocky desert and mountains that covers almost 170,000 square miles with a green vegetation zone between her two major rivers, the Euphrates to the west and the Tigris to the east.
The northern portion of Iraq, known as Al Jazira, is mountainous. Near her northern border with Turkey, elevations reach around 7,000 feet above sea level; in the northeastern part of the country, near the border with Iran, there are higher peaks. The highest is Mount Ebrahim with an elevation of almost 12,000 feet above sea level. Farther south the country slopes downward to form a broad, central alluvial plain, which encompasses the valley of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. West of the Euphrates, the land rises gradually to meet the Syrian Desert. The extreme southeastern portion of Iraq is a low-lying, marshy area adjacent to the Persian Gulf.
There are two different types of soils in Iraq. Heavy alluvial deposits, containing a significant amount of humus and clay, make up one type and are very useful for the numerous construction projects in the region. The lighter soils, lacking in humus and clay content, contain wind-deposited nutrients. With its large quantities of water, supplied by the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, semi-rich soil has been deposited along and between the two rivers for centuries. A high saline content mars the otherwise rich composition of these deposited soils. Flood-control projects and irrigation on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers help increase the agricultural production of this area. About 50 percent of the land is arable.
(The Tigris River from Tikrit, Iraq)
Iraq is predominantly an agricultural country. Approximately 12 percent of the land is under cultivation. Most farmland is in the region of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. Agricultural production averages included 550,000 metric tons of wheat, 465,000 metric tons of barley, and 130,000 metric tons of rice annually. Before the imposition of UN sanctions, exports of dates from Iraq accounted for a major share of the world trade in dates. Other fruits produced include apples, figs, grapes, olives, oranges, pears, and pomegranates.
The natural resources of Iraq are primarily mineral. The country is well endowed with petroleum and natural gas. Petroleum is the most important natural resource of Iraq. The country is estimated to have about 10 percent of the world's supply of proved petroleum reserves. The oil fields are located in two main regions: in the north-central part of the country, near Kirkuk and Mosul, and in the southeast part of the country, just inland from the Persian Gulf, near Ar Rumaylah. There are also small deposits of various other minerals that include ores of copper, gold, iron, lead, silver, platinum, and zinc. Gypsum, salt and sulfur are fairly abundant, and seams of brown coal are numerous.
On a rockhound note… While still in Kuwait and out on a nearby weapons range to test fire our rifles, which is located out in the middle of the Kuwaiti desert, I found a good size chunk of well tumbled light gray & tan agate. About the size of a grapefruit and weighing about 5 or 6 pounds, it was very weathered and polished from the blowing desert sands. I'm looking forward to getting back to the states and having it cut open. I suspect it will be banded inside.
There were also several more much smaller tumbled stone that covered the entire area, evidently, an ancient riverbed. I also found a smaller, less rounded two-toned rock slightly larger than a golf ball. Half of the rock was a dark purplish-brown color and the other half was a tan color. The blowing desert sands or sandblasting too had polished it. And walking to the chow hall at our base camp the other day, I found a small piece of tumbled Brown Moss Agate, a nice little surprise.
Well folks, I hope yall enjoyed this first report. I will be writing more once I get up north to Tikrit. Everyone take care and happy hunting - Yonis
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