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Rapid engineering geological/geomorphological surveys are sometimes required for extensive urban and industrial developments on tracts of land for which little or no background topographic or geotechnical information is available. In areas unobscured by vegetation, geo-morphological mapping based on air-photo interpretation augmented by field checking and detailed ground survey, can quickly provide a robust framework of terrain units of value in:

  • (1)

    planning cost-effective site investigations;

  • (2)

    interpreting and extrapolating subsurface point data provided by trial pits/ boreholes;

  • (3)

    the early identification of problematic locations requiring detailed investigation;

  • (4)

    the preliminary identification and delimitation of surface material resources;

  • (5)

    establishing a basis for preliminary assessments of ground hazard potential.

The classic example of such requirements arose in the proposal to redevelop and expand dramatically the size of Suez Town (El Suweis) in the aftermath of the October 1973 Yom Kippur War. The proposed new Suez City was to be developed on 85km2 of desert surface that had previously been little investigated and was presumed initially to be relatively uniform and non-problematic (Fig. 1). However, preliminary site investigations revealed unexpected lateral variations in near-surface materials, thereby necessitating a rapid geomorphological survey to establish terrain conditions and to identify the potential for aggressive soils and flash-flood hazard. This was achieved by a team of five specialists in three weeks; details are to be found in Doornkamp et al. (1979), Bush et al. (1980) and Cooke et al. (1982).

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