Fulbright Senior Specialist Returns from Egypt Assignment

Dr. Christopher Stohr (center) with professor Syed Gharieb (right) and Instructor Hatem Bakry (left) at a cement plant where very fine cement kiln dust becomes an irritant and inhalation problem when springtime hurrican force Khamsin (50-day) winds blow the waste into the surrounding towns and city of Beni Suef.Christopher Stohr was on remote assignment to Beni Suef University (BSU), Beni Suef, Egypt from October 15 to November 5, 2010, as a Fulbright Senior Specialist. The purpose of Stohr's visit was to present lectures and lead a workshop/short course on remote sensing and engineering geology, observe waste and environmental sites around Beni Suef, and make an environmental/engineering geology and natural hazards map of "new" East Beni Suef, an area of potential industrial and economic development.

Stohr provided lectures on

  • the failure of an industrial chemical landfill (Earthline, Wilsonville, Illinois) in the midwestern United States, explaining how the failure was studied and what lessons were learned about engineering geology exploration and laboratory testing. Special emphasis was given to the use of remote sensing for engineering geology exploration at a hazardous waste site and the contents of waste drums.
  • the use of close range photogrammetry and remote sensing for georeferenced outcrop descriptions. Discussion referenced limestone mining, sand and gravel extraction, archaeology, and geologic mapping for groundwater resources.
  • the use of downhole geophysical logging for mapping Quaternary deposits. This topic was of greater interest than expected.
  • the glacial geology of Illinois, including a description of glacial processes and a chronology of events.

For the Workshop/Short Course, "Engineering Geology and Remote Sensing," Stohr discussed sources and types of imagery, enhancement and classification of imagery, and applications of remote sensing for engineering geology. Examples included "Aerial Photo Interpretation of Landslides along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers (work with Wen-June Su), "Thermal Infrared Imagery for Detecting Carbon Dioxide Leaking from Geologic Sequestration" (with Bracken Wimmer and others), and LiDAR applications in Illinois (with Donald Luman).

Work was begun on an environmental/engineering geology and natural hazards map of "New" Beni-Suef City (east of the Nile River). The area south of East Beni Suef encompasses dwelling and industrial sectors and is surrounded by desert. Because urbanization of this area has been expanding, remote sensing is being used with limited available engineering and geologic information to select the most favorable places for expansion of this new city (e.g., proposing the favorable places for waste disposal, buildings, and factories and avoiding hazardous areas).

Dr. Christopher Stohr (wearing hat) with Professor Ibrahim Abdel-Gaied (short sleeves and dark trousers), Instructor Rabea Mohamed (hand on chin) and upper level students from the Geology Department of Beni Suef University at Lake Qarun. The lake is a popular resort area which is experiencing considerable pollution and is becoming increasingly saline. Stohr visited several waste disposal sites near Beni Suef governate and Lake Qarun and Wadi Rayyun in the adjoining Faiyum governate to observe and discuss problems. During the visits, Stohr and the BSU professors discussed how some of the waste management problems were met in the United States as well as strategies under consideration in Egypt. These sites were visited or observed:

  • sewage waste composting site
  • medical waste incinerator
  • village damaged by catastrophic flooding
  • foundation problems from sewage treatment and discharge
  • municipal solid waste landfill
  • cement plant waste dump
  • agricultural and sewage discharge to Lake Qarun and Wadi Rayun
  • Ain El Shaeer Springs, which discharges warm alkaline water

The Dean of Commerce, as well as other professionals, described the problem of airborne cement kiln dust as the worst problem facing the area. Waste cement is dumped and insufficiently contained by earthen cover only to be wind eroded during the khamsin winds to become an air pollutant.

Finally, Stohr met with Dr. Mohamed Youssef, President of BSU; Dr. Hany Hamdi, Dean of the Faculty of Science; and Dr. Gouda Abdel-Gawad, Chair of the Geology Department who asked about developing a memorandum of understanding with respect to student exchange, collaborative research, and perhaps teaching. Discussions are currently under way between BSU and the University of Bergen, Norway. The BSU operates its own field camps and trips in the Red Sea Mountains and in the Sinai Peninsula.