Synopsis top ↑
The southern part of the Western Desert of Egypt occupies the centre
of the largest hyperarid area of the earth. Between 1981 and 1987, the
Joint Research Project “Geoscientific Problems in Arid and Semiarid
Areas” (SFB 69) carried out basic research in Egypt supported by the
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) as well as by the Technical
University (TU), Free University (FU), and Polytechnic (TFH) of
Berlin. The Egyptian counterpart institutions were the General
Petroleum Company (GPC) and the Geological Survey (EGSMA) of
Egypt. The topics investigated included the study of sedimentary
basins, groundwater regimes, mineral resources, climatic development,
plant ecology, development of soils and their suitability for
The cartography unit, one of the major subprojects, was concerned with the development of new types of maps based on remote sensing data. The thematic presentation of research results became increasingly important after the completion of the 80-sheet topographic inventory of Egypt, the “Working Sheet Series 1:250000”, and the finalizing of the topographic base map for the Geological Map of Egypt 1:500000 within the project and the additional “Geological Mapping Project”. The digital satellite image mosaic based on Landsat-MSS data made it possible to produce supplementary medium and small scale maps of selected topics.
When SFB 69 completed its first phase in Egypt in 1987, transfering its activities to Sudan and Somalia, the idea was born to present the collected multidisciplinary results in one thematic map work related to the geopotential and ecology of the southwestern region of Egypt. This area, including the oases of Dakhla and Kharga, formed one of the main focuses of the interdisciplinary research. The map series of six “Geopotential and Ecological Maps of the Western Desert of Egypt” documents the present situation of this arid area for the first time on an 1:1000000 scale by the following thematic maps: Topography, Lithology, Hydrogeology, Soil Association, Land Suitability (for irrigated agriculture), and Vegetation.
Background information for the different maps and related contributions supplement the environmental information. The interdisciplinary approach within the study area covers in detail aspects of remote sensing data in cartography, landscape evolution and paleoclimate, sedimentary basin studies including mineral resources, groundwater assessment and management, soil associations and land suitability, landscape ecology and phytomass production of wild and cultivated plants. Thus, the original idea of a multidisciplinary documentation of an arid area has now resulted in a map series and a volume of selected contributions to the environmental setting of this region after many years of intensive research. The content of these maps also provides an appropriate data base for a future environmental Geographical Information System (GIS).