This blog provides commentary on interesting geological events occurring around the world in the context of my own work. This work is, broadly, geological fluid dynamics. The events that I highlight here are those that resonate with my professional life and ideas, and my goal is to interpret them in the context of ideas I've developed in my research. The blog does not represent any particular research agenda. It is written on a personal basis and does not seek to represent the University of Illinois, where I am a professor of geology and physics. Enjoy Geology in Motion! I would be glad to be alerted to geologic events of interest to post here! I hope that this blog can provide current event materials that will make geology come alive.

Banner image is by Ludie Cochrane..

Susan Kieffer can be contacted at s1kieffer at gmail.com

Monday, November 15, 2010

Why does a geologist care about the Sudan and John Kerry?

from World Book Student
Sudan is an impoverished nation south of Egypt. The Nile river divides the country into east and west, religious agendas divide the north from the south.  Northern Sudan is dominated by an Islamic government and the Arabic language. The south is dominated by Christians and anamists.  Civil wars between Northern and Southern Sudan began in 1955, the year before independence from Anglo-Egyptian rule that had been in place since 1899.  These were fueled by complicated historical events, and fears by the southerners that the north would dominate them after independence. Conflict raged from 1955 to 1972, followed by a 10-year haitus, but civil war broke out again from 1983. Since 1983, civil war and famine have claimed the lives of nearly 2 million people.  From 1989 to 2005, war continued, terminating with the Nairobi Comprehensive Peace Agreement that granted Southern Sudan autonomy for six years, to be followed by a referendum about independence.

This brings us to the present.  Voter registration begins today (November 15, 2010) for the referendum vote, which is to take place on January 9, 2011.. It is being observed by representatives from the European Union.  John Kerry was in Khartoum on November 7 to carry the message from Obama that the US is committed to peace and to the negotiations.  Obama has offered proposals, and there are fairly explicit hints that lifting sanctions on Sudan is on the table.

Why does a geologist care? Oil and water.  70% of the oil in Sudan lies in the south, but land locked southern Sudan has no way to get the oil to market unless it either goes through northern Sudan, or builds alternate pipelines, probably through Kenya.  The north isn't sure that it can survive on 30% of the oil revenues. And, water--the Nile river has headwaters in the south.  Transboundary water issues may become increasingly frequent in the 21st century as it becomes the so-called "new oil."  Tension is present between the US and Mexico because of the trans-boundary Colorado River, and Bangladesh has over 50 rivers that begin in India or Myanmar. 17 countries share the Danube, 11 share the Congo and Niger, 10 share the Nile, 9 share the Rhine and Zambezi, 8 share the Amazon and Lake Chad, and 6 share the Aral Sea, the Tigris and Euphrates, and the Volta. These and other data are available here.

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