Nile Delta faces danger of subsidence, submergence: study

Mohammed El-Said
2 Min Read
The Ministry of Electricity and Energy (MOEE) announced a regional control centre project to be built in the Nile Delta. (Wikimedia Commons/Jacques Descloitres)

A new study showed that the recent subsidence rate over the Nile River Delta, considered the country’s major breadbasket, is up to 9.7 mm per year, an estimated 2,660 sqkm in northern delta will be inundated by year 2100.

According to the study that was published recently in the journal of geophysical research, deformation in the Nile Delta is influenced by both regional natural and local anthropogenic controls that are at times superimposed on one another.

The findings of the study pointed out that the regional deformation in the study area is principally controlled by natural phenomena, such as isostatic adjustment and natural compaction of Holocene sediments (up to 8.9 mm/year) depending on the sediment thickness, age, and composition, yet anthropogenic factors can cause added local deformation in the region.

Results of the study indicated that by the year 2100, the northern delta will be submerged by 2,660 sqkm of seawater and the lives and livelihoods of nearly 5.7 million people will be affected if the extracted deformation rates persist.

Natural and artificial structures, in combination with land deformation processes, are expected to play a major role in the inland progression of seawater, according to the study. According to a previous study, which was conducted by the Geological Society of America, the soil-rich delta is only 1 metre above median sea level at the Mediterranean coast, which makes it subject to uneven rates of submergence.

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Mohammed El-Said is the Science Editor for the Daily News Egypt with over 8 years of experience as a journalist. His work appeared in the Science Magazine, Nature Middle East, Scientific American Arabic Edition, SciDev and other regional and international media outlets. El-Said graduated with a bachelor's degree and MSc in Human Geography, and he is a PhD candidate in Human Geography at Cairo University. He also had a diploma in media translation from the American University in Cairo.
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