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(Click on image for full gallery)

Oman 1978-79 - Party 742

This was my introduction to the world of seismic exploration. I signed my original Seismograph Service (England) Limited contract on 1st April 1978. After spending interminable weeks in Bromley, doing daft tasks such as drawing grids with a pair of compasses and a ruler or splicing together film sections in the Petts Wood drawing office, I finally was sent out to Muscat on 30th May 1978 (click here to see the original Assignment Instructions) with no idea of what was to come. Being employed as a an assistant surveyor, my status wasn't elevated enough for the luxury of an induction course.

Due to the bizarre tax regulations in force at the time, I had to sign a new contract with Geophysical Company (Jersey) Limited before working abroad, and was then immediately hired back to a third company, Seismograph Service Limited.

And what an introduction it was - after a day or two in the PDO compound in Mina al Fahal, Muscat, I was flown down to Marmul and greeted by George Dunn (admin), then bundled into the open back of a Land Rover and taken to the Seismic 2 base camp, where I was dumped in the cold store trailer for my first few nights, enduring a freezing cold air con and lots of smelly vegetables.

I wasn't too impressed, but eventually was given a proper room in the survey trailer (one of the superb Cooper Coachworks caravans that SSL used in many countries) after the departure of Phil Smart, who I was supposed to be replacing. Except that he knew how to do seismic surveying, and I didn't...luckily Tim Watson came to my aid and took me under his wing.

The crew had just converted from thumpers to Vibroseis (International Paystar trucks with Failing vib units), and so there was a lot of activity and people coming and going as the new kit was commissioned. It all meant absolutely nothing to me at the time.

Xmas and the Eid-ul-Fitri holidays stick in my mind - most of the pictures in the gallery are from Xmas there in 1978. For one memorable Eid, we met up with a Petty Ray crew that was close by and ended up driving hours to the beach, where a drunken barbeque was had. I do have some pictures somewhere, but haven't found them yet.

Also remember some bizarre games of 'cricket' with the Ray lot, but I never did quite work out the rules..

I left Oman in about September/October 1979, then went to do an induction course at Holwood before taking up my new role as assistant computer (or seismologist as everyone else calls them) on Party 059 in Brunei on 13th November 1979.

The crew

(There are definitely a lot I've forgotten here..)

Barry Rolph - Party Chief

George Dunn - admin

Neil Lamb - admin

Tim Watson - surveyor

Phil Smart - surveyor

Art Harris - surveyor

Liam Reese - surveyor

Alan Gowers - mechanic

Ron Howe (?) - mechanic

Pete Eichler - observer

Frank Walker - supervisor (Muscat)