GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 101-10
Presentation Time: 10:30 AM


PARIZEK, Richard R.1, PARIZEK, Katarin A.2, EL-GOHARY, AMR3, WALTERS, Elizabeth J.4, ALEXANDER, Shelton5 and GOLD, David P.1, (1)Department of Geosciences, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, (2)Richard R. Parizek and Associates, 751 McKee Street, State College, PA 16803, (3)GEOLOGY AND GEOPHYSICAL SCIENCES DEPARTMENT, NATIONAL RESEARCH CENTRE, CAIRO, Egypt, (4)Art History, The Pennsylvania State University, 209 Borland Building, University Park, PA 16802, (5)GEOSCIENCES, PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY, UNIVERSITY PARK, PA 16802,

Unlike many temples and archaeological sites damaged or destroyed by rising water and evaporate salts, opportunities remain to preserve an ancient mudbrick structure located on the second Nile terrace at the mouth of Wadi Abu Sufian 1.0 km south of Hierakonpolis Temple-Town site, 25 km north of Edfu, Upper Egypt. Localized hydrogeologic site investigations document the rise of capillary and groundwater levels that pose an imminent threat to this massive, vulnerable structure attributed to the Second Dynasty. Wet soils first appeared near the mouth of the Wadi when groundwater levels were shown to have risen >4m by 1998 and where surface pools, first 3 then >33 appeared within early Hierakonpolis excavations. Wet spots increased in size and number within the Wadi, later, on the first and second terraces, and by 2006 at foundation level within the “fort’s” enclosure. Villages attributed rising water to local agriculture and domestic sewage disposal practices.

LANDSAT images (1998-2004) however, showed early development of the El-Saya’ada Canal, which raises water 50m above the Nile allowing reclamation of 6742 ha (v projected 11,736 ha) of desert by 2002 within 2 to >12 km of the “fort”. Google images show reclamation continues within and immediately adjacent to the Abu Sufian watershed to the south and west. Discord between surface and groundwater drainage divides will allow the Wadi to receive greater irrigation return flows as reclamation expands within and beyond these drainage divides. Lacking immediate intervention measures, this World Heritage Site will be destroyed as more terrace foundation soils become saturated as predicted by remote sensing and hydrogeologic site investigations. Gravity drains, sheet-pile or slurry cutoff walls, groundwater pumping or restricted reclamation are viable intervention options but time and resource commitments are of the essence as demonstrated by the widespread destruction of hundreds of mudbrick homes, salination and flooding of Nile flood plain and recently reclaimed desert. As in archaeological work, regional context matters. Satellite imagery provides time-sequencing spatial contextual data valuable to highly focused site specific geotechnical investigations.