Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Mohamed Sultan

Second Advisor

Dr. Joseph Atkinson

Third Advisor

Dr. Carla Koretsky

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Barry Lesht


Remote sensing techniques provide valuable tools for assessing a wide variety of environmental phenomena. They have been used for monitoring and assessment of various types of geologic and environmental hazards occurring on land, in the air, or in oceans. I present results from two studies, the first of which examines the spatial and temporal distribution of algal blooms in the Great Lakes; the second measures subsidence in the Nile Delta.

In the first study, methodologies to investigate the extent and distribution (temporally and spatially) of algal blooms in Lake Erie and Lake Ontario are studied. Millions of people in the U.S and Canada rely on the Great Lakes for drinking water, food, work, and recreation. Toxic algal blooms present a hazard to the substantial number of communities that draw water from the Great Lakes. Visible and infra red MODIS satellite data are used to map the extent of algal blooms in these lakes. Existing algorithms to retrieve chlorophyll concentrations are successfully tested against in situ measurements from sampling cruises. Algorithms are developed to identify the potentially toxic cyanobacterial blooms.

The second study examines subsidence in the Nile Delta. The modern Nile Delta is the major agricultural production area for Egypt and was formed from sediments supplied by at least 10 distinct distributary channels throughout the Holocene. With an average elevation around a meter above sea level and with a predicted rise in sea level of 1.8-5.9 mm/year the subsidence of the northern 30 km of the delta is a topic of major concern to the Egyptian population and government. Ongoing subsidence rates in the northeastern Nile Delta were estimated using persistent scatterer radar interferometry techniques. The highest rates ( ~8 mm/yr; twice average Holocene rates) correlate with the distribution of the youngest deposition, with older depositional centers subsiding at slower rates of 2-6 mm/yr. Results are interpreted to indicate that: (1) modern subsidence in the Delta is heavily influenced by the compaction of the most recent sediments, and (2) the highly threatened areas are at the terminus of the Damietta, where the most recent deposition has occurred.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Geology Commons