Environmental Processes and Forecast of their Effects

 

This research requires a broadly based governmental effort and a multi-disciplinary approach. The studies of the Geological Survey in this realm focus on different processes that are connected with accelerated urbanization manifested by contamination of water sources and in desertification processes, and integrate hydrogeological, geomorphological, geochemical and isotopic disciplines. The specific studies and research in these fields contribute to reconstruction and understanding the dominant processes in our region, those that occurred in the not-so-distant past and those likely to occur in the near future, and thus help in delineating ways to minimize potential damage. These studies include:

Geochemistry of water, monitoring and characterizing groundwater

- This includes a wide range of subjects that deal with (1) the composition of water in the unsaturated zone, (2) the change in composition of rainwater in the transition to groundwater, (3) the effect of irrigation using purified sewage on the composition of the coastal aquifer, (4) the development of reducing conditions in the Judea Group aquifer, (5) the composition of groundwater in the Arava, (6) the composition and source of salts in the southern part of the Jordan River, (7) composition of the water column of the Sea of Galilee, (8) examination of the composition of the saline springs in the Sea of Galilee, (9) sensitivity of brackish water basins, (10) sensitivity of the coastal aquifer to areal contaminants, and (11) monitoring the composition of the Dead Sea. Certain of these studies were initiated by the Geological Survey and others are part of integrated studies funded by research grants, the Water Commission, the Mekorot Company and other bodies.

- Changes in time and space in the shallow continental shelf. This region is sensitive to environmental changes that may result from large development plans in the area. Identifying the changes that occurred naturally in the recent past and recorded in the sedimentary record penetrated in boreholes and understanding their causes should help in predicting the anthropomorphic effects. Several studies include the characterization of sediments and fauna in the shallow continental shelf (between the coastline to 40 m inland). Details of borehole samples acquired in the framework of projects related to planned development of artificial islands and the building of a coal terminal in Ashqelon, serves as a point of departure for understanding processes in the shallow continental shelf of Israel during the Holocene and the more distant past, and can help in forecasting the results of future development.

- Effects of coal dust. These studies are being carried out for the Israel Electric Company, the Coal Company and the Coal Administration. Research is presently focused on tracing chemical and mineralogical changes occurring in piles of coal dust.

- Geochemical monitoring and radon discharge in the Tiberias hot springs spa. This project is being carried out jointly with researchers from abroad. A set of detectors wase emplaced to continuously measure chemical and physical parameters of the saline hot flow in the area.

- Identification of faunistic collectors in brackish water pools. This involves a methodical survey of pools along the shores of Israel, some of which are faced with destruction because of low groundwater levels. Since these collectors are sensitive to the environment, their identification and their changes in the sedimentary record indicates changes in the natural systems over time and the significance of their infringement by anthropogenic effects. This study is partially funded by the Israel Nature and National parks Protection Authority, will include borehole samples to identify the changes that took place in the Holocene.

- Desertification processes in the Negev. The study focuses on the Negev high mountains where a loss of agricultural soil and a reduction of the vegetation biomass are occurring. This is due to incisions into the alluvial section deposited in the area some 25-50 thousand years ago. The study is being carried out in collaboration with the Ramon Science Center, the Ministry of Science, and the National Geographic Society.

 

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