Geology of the Nile

In January, a group of Missouri S&T students and faculty traveled to Egypt to study geologic formations surrounding the Egyptian Nile, painting a picture of the evolutionary history of the past 6 million years.


The project is part of the International Research Experience for Students program, funded by the National Science Foundation and the Office of International Science and Engineering. The program gives students an opportunity to travel abroad and experience the academic and social culture of their host county while engaged in scientific research.
Leading the project is Mohamed Abdel Salam, associate professor of geological sciences and engineering at Missouri S&T. He has been conducting research in North East Africa for more than 15 years.
“The Nile River continues to beat all odds to exist,” says Abdel Salam. “Geological evolution is fundamentally important to understanding how long-lasting rivers evolve and how climate change and Earth movement affect their evolutionary path.”
Interest in the evolutionary history of the region is not purely academic. “It is important for finding clean groundwater resources and fertile soil for agricultural activities today,” says Abdel Salam.
In Egypt, Abdel Salam and the five Missouri S&T students focused on a small portion of the Nile near Aswan in southern Egypt. Students each worked on sub-projects during their 20 days of field work. Some mapped faults and rock layers along the Nile to understand the topographic control of the river channel, while geophysics teams took seismic readings, measuring shock waves through rock layers several hundred meters deep. Other teams measured gravitational and magnetic properties of the subsurface up to one kilometer deep.

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