05-Oct-2004 -- This summer 2004, I have been told by a friend based in Indonesia about the Degree Confluence Project. Although this Project may not be considered by local peoples as understandable, it has the advantage of being a worldwide peaceful game with nothing to win, but the right to get lost sometimes.
I am a surveyor within a French oil company and I am here (South-West Libya) to supervise the start-up of the positioning of a seismic survey shot by a well known western company. The base camp is not yet fully installed: it is a melting pot of Mauritanians (speaking Arabic, French, Fulani, and Tamasheq), Sudanese, Egyptians and Libyans (speaking Arabic and English), and also western people (Americans, Brits, Germans, Argentines, etc). No problem to communicate, as I learned few Arabic, Tamasheq (the native language of the Tuaregs) and Fulani in Niger (Niamey) 30 years ago. The only problem may come from the northern Americans, as they are almost monolingual and their accents often sound special to us.
I realised that the confluence point (or CP) 25N 11E is located close to the western part of the survey area and I talked about the project with Stephan and Pablo, the two expatriate surveyors, as well as with Muṣṭafā (Libyan surveyor). On Tuesday, 5 October 2004, we decided on a meeting point (an existing benchmark to be scouted) by 24°59'18.6"N and 11°01'02.4"E, (local European Libyan Datum 1979) in the afternoon. As Stephan and Pablo didn't come (they had been delayed by the scouting operation), we decided Muṣṭafā and myself to go alone to the CP. I left a paper informing on our project, attached to the benchmark; I changed the set up of the GPS receiver to WGS84. The CP 25N 11E was located 3.6 km heading west and we departed at 15:20. The track was quite easy with the exception of the final kilometre with high sand dunes and slopes cleverly negotiated by Muṣṭafā. Nevertheless, we got stuck at the bottom between two dunes, so we had to deflate the four tyres. We rapidly succeeded to get out. We stopped at 240 m from the position, to avoid further driving problems and to keep the landscape clear of tyre prints, and we walked in soft sand (above the ankles) to arrive at 15:45.
The CP is located on a small 20 m long plateau surrounded by sand dunes below the point to the South and to the West and above to the North and to the East. Small dry bushes tried to survive in this hostile environment. We got no problem to get back as we already knew the traps.
In all the area were laid some archaeological remains (artefacts) showing that a strong community was established 6000 to 3000 years ago when the country was green and wet, with elephants, hippopotamus, ostriches and giraffes.