Abstract

Hydrological assessment studies across vast regions of the arid world are often hindered by the inaccessibility of these areas and the paucity of data sets, as well as the high expenses and difficulties entailed in acquiring these data sets, their unpublished nature, and their varying scales, projections, and datum. Using the Eastern Desert (ED) of Egypt (225,000 km2) and the Sinai Peninsula (61,000 km2) as test sites, we demonstrate practical and cost-effective integrated (geochemistry, geophysics, and modeling) solutions that utilize web-based geographic information system (GIS) (http://www.esrs.wmich.edu/webmap) technologies and take advantage of readily available global remote sensing data sets. Adopted methodologies allowed: (1) development of conceptual models for hydrogeologic settings conducive to groundwater entrapment and augmentation, including groundwater in fractured basement aquifers, groundwater impounded by dike swarms crosscutting alluvial aquifers, and groundwater residing in alluvial aquifers associated with ascending deep-seated fossil waters; (2) selection of criteria to identify and validate the preferred distribution of each of these aquifer types and usage of the selected criteria and observations from the GIS data sets to identify, test, and refine potential well locations; and (3) construction and calibration of hydrologic models to estimate average annual recharge over the major watersheds in the Sinai (463 × 106 m3/yr) and ED (171 × 106 m3/yr) and the average modern contributions to Nubian fossil aquifers (Sinai: 13 × 106 m3/yr), and to model the partitioning of precipitation as a function of precipitation amounts. The successful application of the integrated and cost-effective methodologies developed for the study areas should invite similar applications in arid regions elsewhere.

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