Web Extra     October 16, 2001

Geologic clues in the war on terrorism

Geologists are analyzing rocks seen in the background of a recent video of Osama bin Laden in hopes of identifying his hideaway, the San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday. The newspaper sent still images from the available videotape to geologists and learned that government officials have also inquired about the video’s geologic significance.

Geologists are in disagreement however on how accurate any claim about a location might be because of the uncertainty of the rocks’ color and distance from the camera. The most specific interpretation came from John Shroder Jr., a geologist at the University of Nebraska at Omaha who has worked in Afghanistan.

“The photo image appears staged, probably with special lighting, in front of rocks that indicate (bin Laden) was probably in a ravine deep inside Paktia, which is a southwestern province in Afghanistan, and Pushtun tribal territory," Shroder told the Chronicle. Other geologists agreed, identifying the grayish-white layers of rock as possible limestone deposits — distinctively different from rocks in the northeast mountains of Afghanistan.

For the Chronicle story click here

Christina Reed

Geotimes Home | AGI Home | Information Services | Geoscience Education | Public Policy | Programs | Publications | Careers

© 2023 American Geological Institute. All rights reserved. Any copying, redistribution or retransmission of any of the contents of this service without the express written consent of the American Geological Institute is expressly prohibited. For all electronic copyright requests, visit: