2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 261-15
Presentation Time: 11:30 AM


PARIZEK, Richard R., Department of Geosciences, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, PARIZEK, Katarin A., Richard R. Parizek and Associates, 751 McKee Street, State College, PA 16803, EL GOHARY, Amr, Geology and Geophysical Sciences Department, National Research Centre, Cairo, Egypt, GOLD, David, Geosciences Department, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, WALTERS, Elizabeth J., Art History, The Pennsylvania State University, 209 Borland Building, University Park, PA 16802 and ALEXANDER, Shelton S., Geosciences, Penn State University, 403 Deike Building, University Park, PA 16802, parizek@ems.psu.edu

The Hierakonpolis Temple-Town site in Upper Egypt 25 km NW of Edfu has a valid claim to be the first nation state with discovery of Narmer palette. Pottery finds extend occupation to 4,000 BCE. It contains central, western and eastern mounds on the Nile floodplain near the confluence of Wadi Abu Sufian. A large mudbrick structure believed to date from the Second Dynasty (from 2,890 to 2,686 BC) is located on the first Nile terrace 1.0 km to the south along with important ancient burial sites.

These antiquities are being damaged or threatened by rising water levels (nearly 4.0 m since 1892) and accumulation of evaporate salts. This is documented by depths of excavations, measurements obtained from a network of 149 shallow piezometers, 6 domestic wells and 13 project deep-monitoring wells. Water level data reveal a complex water table configuration and changing flow pattern supported by temperature, salinity and conductivity maps.

Rising artesian heads within sand and gravel, semi-confined by Nile silts, are related to irrigation return flows derived from the Wadi-El-Saya’ada Land Reclamation Project 1.5 to 13 km from the Temple-Town up to 50 m above the Nile. More than 6,742 ha out of the planned 11,706 were cultivated by 2002, resulting in the destruction of hundreds of mudbrick structures, salinization of fertile Nile flood plain and precluding deeper excavation.

A pumping test demonstrated that artesian heads could be controlled by costly active pumping not feasible given Egypt’s political and economic uncertainties. A clay confining bed complicates dewatering of an upper silt aquifer nourished by local flood irrigation, canal leakage and domestic wastewater. A network of passive tile drains and flowing artesian wells would be a less costly, more sustainable solution to control shallow groundwaters and rising artesian heads if a drainage canal were to be upgraded. Also, thousands of mudbrick structures and important antiquities could be protected and salinization of cropland reduced or prevented if a new drainage canal were to be properly located and constructed through cooperation of various ministries.