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Google Earth and geologic research in remote regions of the developing world: An example from the Western Desert of Egypt

By
Barbara J. Tewksbury
Barbara J. Tewksbury
Geosciences Department, Hamilton College, 198 College Hill Road, Clinton, New York 13323, USA
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Asmaa A.K. Dokmak
Asmaa A.K. Dokmak
Geology Department, Faculty of Science, Alexandria University, Alexandria, Egypt
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Elhamy A. Tarabees
Elhamy A. Tarabees
Geology Department, Faculty of Science, Damanhour University, Damanhour, Egypt
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Ahmed S. Mansour
Ahmed S. Mansour
Geology Department, Faculty of Science, Alexandria University, Alexandria, Egypt
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Published:
October 01, 2012

Remote sensing is an important option for finding interesting research problems in remote regions of the world, but existing freely available imagery, such as Landsat imagery, has limitations in terms of resolution. In some remote areas, recently available high-resolution imagery in Google Earth has the potential to revolutionize the kind of research that can be initiated and carried out. This paper details an example from a remote region of Egypt's Western Desert.

Work by others on Eocene carbonates of the Drunka and El Rufuf Formations has focused on lithologic and paleontologic aspects, and previous mapping of the contact between the two formations in the Western Desert using early Landsat imagery (69 m/pixel) shows a simple contact. High-resolution imagery in Google Earth (~1 m/pixel) shows, however, that the contact is both folded and faulted. We used high-resolution images in Google Earth to define mappable subunits and to do detailed mapping of folds and faults in a 400 km2 study area. Subsequent field work confirmed the accuracy of lithologic and structural mapping in Google Earth, targeted critical areas for field data collection, and provided ground truth for extending mapping into remote areas.

Freely available, high-resolution satellite imagery in Google Earth not only allows identification of research questions but is also critical in pre–field work mapping, targeting sites for field work, and disseminating research results in areas of the world where field work is difficult, funding is poor, and access to dissemination of research results outside the region is limited.

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GSA Special Papers

Google Earth and Virtual Visualizations in Geoscience Education and Research

Steven J. Whitmeyer
Steven J. Whitmeyer
Department of Geology & Environmental Science, James Madison University, Memorial Hall, MSC 6903, Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807, USA
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John E. Bailey
John E. Bailey
Scenarios Network for Alaska & Arctic Planning, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska 99709, USA
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Declan G. De Paor
Declan G. De Paor
Department of Physics, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia 23529, USA
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Tina Ornduff
Tina Ornduff
Google Inc., 1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy, Mountain View, California 94043, USA
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Geological Society of America
Volume
492
ISBN print:
9780813724928
Publication date:
October 01, 2012

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