This award is to support a collaborative project between a US team headed by Dr. Richard Parizek, Department of Geosciences at the Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania and an Egyptian team headed by Dr. Ahmed Swedan, Geological Survey of Egypt, Cairo, Egypt. They plan to study the causes and means of combating deterioration of ancient monuments due to rising ground water. Shallow groundwater levels, coupled with concentrations of salt, dissolved solids, and biological compounds, are causing rapid and significant deterioration of monuments and other structures in Egypt. Monuments that have survived for thousands of years are rapidly disintegrating, with temple reliefs and paintings often being sacrificed because they are shallow and readily exfoliated. At Hierakonpolis, a variety of monuments and materials are being degraded. For example, the granite threshold block and its sandstone foundations have lost an alarming amount of surface in the past 15 years. In order to mitigate these problems, it is first necessary to determine the hydrogeologic conditions at each site of interest. This involves measurements of the subsurface flow regime, which typically is not known at the affected areas. Practical geotechnical methods need to be developed for site-specific characterization and groundwater flow modeling leading to recommended mitigation measurements. Once these methods are shown to be effective, they can be applied to many sites by geotechnical contractors in the private sector. The teams will use a combination of geological, geophysical, geochemical and hydrologic methods to develop and validate a flow model for the Hierakonpolis site that can be used to design a practical mitigation plan.
Scope: The project supports collaboration between two research teams of investigators, with extensive experience in geosciences and in material sciences, to carry out a research project of a major societal impact. The combination of these two sides is essential to carry this fieldwork, to drill boreholes and collect samples necessary for developing a groundwater flow model for this region in Upper Egypt. Using the resources at the Pennsylvania State University, and those in Egypt at the Geological Survey of Egypt, the National Research Center and at Cairo University makes it possible to conduct the field work, the laboratory analysis and to develop the models. The proposal meets INT objectives in supporting collaborative research in areas of mutual interest. This project is being supported under the US-Egypt Joint Fund Program, which provides grants to scientists and engineers in both countries to carry out these cooperative activities.