Museum Expeditions & Field Trips - 2006


Sphinx & Pyramid

Egypt has a rich geological heritage that has been exploited by man for over 5000 years. Fossils abound in many parts of the country - some, like Fayoum Province in the south of the country - now so famous that they have been granted World Heritage Site status.

The Oligocene, Eocene and Miocene are present in the Fayoum area which contains remains of Sirenia (Sea Cows), Turtles, Whales, Mammals and even Apes. Carboniferous and Jurassic deposits are found on the Sinai Peninsular many of which contain plant fossils.

Mining for minerals has been extensive throughout the country's history with the Sinai Penninsular yeilding coal and manganese, the Western Desert iron and phosphates and the Eastern Desert iron, mica, wolframite, chromite, magnesite, talc and quartz. The Eastern Desert also contains deposits of gold bearing quartz and calcite.

Talc Smoky Quartz Limonite Trona Pyrolusite Haematite Kaolin Celadorite

Gemstone mining, though less extensive, has yielded emeralds, tourquoise and peridot.

Rocks used for building stone and statuary include granites, diorite, Imperial pophyry, breccia, marble and the nummulitic limestone used to build the Great Pyramids themselves on the Giza Plateau.

Nummulitic Limestone Fossilised Wood

Collecting Specimens

Obviously, anything from Fayoum that lies within the area designated as a World Heritage Site is strictly off-limits.

Elsewhere, collecting should be okay but be careful when around the classical tourist locations such as the Pyramids. Strictly speaking, a licence from the Egyptian Government (Department of Antiquities) is a requirement before taking anything out of the country that is over 100 years old. Although this is in place to control the export of ancient Egyptian artifacts, local interpretation of this requirement can vary. If in doubt ask one of the Tourist & Antiquities Police - identifiable by their white uniform, dark armband and red beret.
Tourist & Antiquities Policeman

Places to Visit

The Cairo Geological Museum contains collections on Egyptian ores, gems, "famous" Egyptian rocks (those used to build their ancient monuments) flint implements, tektites and meteorites, along with displays of both vertebrate and invertebrate fossils.

Admission is free and the museum is open 8.30am to 2.30pm Saturday to Wednesday (Closed Thursday and Friday). It is situated in Old Cairo at Shari' el-Sheikh Rihan, Kornish El Nil. The nearest Metro station is Al Malik as-Salih.

For further information telephone +20 2 524 0916 or +20 2 524 0917 or send them an E-Mail.

Notes for travellers

Stone Museum of Geology extends its grateful thanks to
Hamdy Abo El-Kheer, our driver and guide.


Volcanic CliffsVolcanic CliffsMountains

Geology of the Island

Administered by Portugal, Madeira is situated in the Atlantic Ocean, about 500 miles west of Morocco and about 500 miles north of The Canary Islands. This is a group of four main islands. As well as Madeira, there are three uninhabited islands, Porto Santo to the north east and the two Ilhas Desertas - Deserta Grande and Bugio to the south east. All are of volcanic origin with the predominent rock types being basalt, trachytes and trachydolerites, tufa, scoria (clinker) and conglomerates.


Basalt predominates at the lower altitudes of Madeira with grey or dark-grey Trachytes found above 300 metres. Trachydolerites are lighter coloured and are found at very high altitudes.

Tufa is solidified volcanic mud and occurs in two forms known locally as pedra mole, which is yellow, and cantaria de forno, which is red. Scoria is solidified lava, dark in colour and porous in texture. The island conglomerates are formed from cemented fragments of weathered basalt and tufa.

Places to Visit

The Municipal Museum, in Mouraria Street, Funchal, has information on and displays of the geology of Madeira's Islands. The museum is open to the public from Tuesday to Friday from 10am to 6pm.

The Volcanism Centre in São Vicente on the North coast of the island , provides audiovisual demonstrations of volcanic eruptions and the birth of the island of Madeira.

Located in Grutas about 2km south of São Vicente (on highway ER104) you can also visit São Vicente’s famous volcanic caves. These are composed of a series of lava tubes, the result of an eruption that occurred around 400,000 years ago. Of the 1000 metres of caves, about 700 metres are accessible and take around 30 minutes to view with features such as stalactites and lava accumulations, known as ‘lava cakes’.

Stone Museum of Geology would like to extend its grateful thanks to Mr Tony Hills for the photographs and sample shown above.

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