San Diego State University - Department of Geological Sciences


Central Asia Research and Remediation Exchange
at San Diego State University

CARRE's efforts are focused into three broad goals:

Some of the specific ventures we have been exploring and developing within these three broad project goals include:


  1. Helping network the efforts of the numerous researchers and organizations actively working in Central Asia, particularly in the Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan regions. By providing a common computer basis on which projects are planned and managed, each of these groups gains from the efforts of the others.

  2. Acquiring and processing Landsat 1, 3, and 5 (Thematic Mapper) data of the region to show changes through time and provide a variety of digital data bases on which to build spatial data sets and to image land usage, water flow, nitrate and related fertilizer damage, sand and salt dune migration, land abandonment from salinization, hydrocarbon spillage, and cultural development or migration.

  3. Using space shuttle photography to display changes in regions such as the Aral and Caspian Seas and Kara Bogaz Gol, where regional water management problems have severely impacted the seas and neighboring land. Original positives of the more than 200,000 shuttle photographs are available to us from one of our Research Associates (Gerry Kuhn).

  4. Using regional weather satellite data (AVHRR) to map and display regional dust storms, especially those blowing chemical contaminants into population centers and areas of resource development. Satellite meteorological data through time as displayed in animations provides a practical means of studying the transport of these contaminants and predicting the environmental health impacts on the people of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

  5. Mapping the flow of water within the Amu Dar'ya and Sur Dar'ya River basins and their redirection through time by irrigation as a means of tracking pesticides and other hazardous materials such as agent orange from their areas of use to their interaction with populations and water resources. Work by visiting Soviet scientists and hazardous materials chemists has helped provide data on the pesticides and their regional impacts and needs for assessment.

  6. Mapping the subsurface flow of water from irrigated regions over the drainage divide separating the Aral Sea from the Caspian Sea, whereby water diverted from the Aral Sea flows in the subsurface to enter the Caspian Sea, raising its level and damaging facilities around its margins as well as raising the contaminant levels within the Caspian Sea.

  7. Studying environmental conditions and detailed water quality in areas near the Aral Sea (Karakalpakia region along lower Amu Dar'ya river) where the infant mortality rates are among the highest in the world.

  8. Working with groups who are collecting environmental, health, and other data sets from the region including the identity of pesticides and regions of most intense use.

  9. Studying and animating the changes in levels of the Aral Sea and its effect on accentuating the regional dust storms that blow the pesticide and agent-orange laden salt more than a 1,000 km from the Aral Sea.
  1. Trying to work through the CIS group at US AID to help provide a synthesis of the problems in Central Asia and to make data bases available to address them by groups with an expertise to do so.

  2. Providing imagery and GIS capabilities to a group of volunteer hydrologists (Lifewater), who have undertaken a project to drill 11,000 water wells in Uzbekistan through a combination of US AID and Uzbek resources along with donations from private parties.

  3. Studying the relationship of infant mortality, sewage, and pesticides in conjunction with the Graduate School of Public Health at SDSU and Dr. Alisher Sharipov of the Tashkent Medical Pediatric Institute.

  4. Trying to work with the Uzbek government on water management issues along with other university researchers. SDSU has been designated by the Uzbek government as the lead US university in this effort through the efforts of Mr. Dave Moore, Director of International Development for the San Diego State University Foundation. We are also trying to acquire the same designation from the Kazakhstan government to work on the problems shared by the two countries.

  5. Offering to participate in fact-finding efforts on behalf of the US government and private organizations to determine the highest priority projects for beginning and identifying the Central Asian co-workers who can best facilitate accomplishing the tasks. SDSU has developed a significant association with the Central Asia Research Institute in Tashkent and has several proposals submitted in cooperation with this and other groups in Central Asia.

  6. Providing groups like US AID with samples of imaging and GIS outputs to display techniques and their usefulness in visualizing spatial relationships for planning and managing US foreign aid and development efforts. Volunteers doing work in the Amu Dar'ya river delta (starting in May of 1993) will be using imagery and GIS output from SDSU and trying to determine its usefulness for water projects in the region.


  1. Make teaching facilities in imaging and GIS within our university available for teaching extended short courses in using computers to do many of the preceding tasks. People of Central Asia could be brought to a facility that already works and is a teaching environment to develop their capabilities to do this work at home on their own behalf.

  2. Serve as a site where faculty and leaders can study areas such as public health, business, and environmental control within a working infrastructure.

  3. Provide a framework through other CSU and UC campuses and research stations where imagery and GIS can be combined with resource management, agribusiness, and health concerns.

  4. Make computer animations and short videos to educate using visual techniques illustrating environmental problems and their adverse effects on the health and economy of the Central Asian people. Videos will be done in Russian, English, Kazakh, and Uzbek to facilitate communicating to a wide range of people.

  5. etwork via Internet with people doing environmental assessment in rural areas of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan who are actively pursuing projects. Numerous volunteers within our department and others within the university are offering their expertise to workers Central Asia via questions on Internet about environmental solutions of specific problems.

  6. Develop the linkage of cities in the US with cities in Central Asia to share expertise and promote business ventures and goodwill, such as El Centro with farming communities in Kara Kum desert area along polluted shores of Amu Dar'ya river.

  7. Display existing demonstration facilities where high-protein algae are being grown using methane as food for the algae. Algae can be eaten by people (tastes like chocolate) or fed to fish contained within tanks to revitalize fishing industry using hydrocarbon waste as the primary energy source.

  8. Show people living near the Aral Sea and Caspian Sea how the regional sand and salt dunes could be stabilized using plants from Argentina that will grow in such eolian salt and that have been cultivated in Southern California. Large-scale planting of these shrubs and trees could stabilize a significant portion of the dust source.

  9. Develop short course type classes in environmental and agro imaging using the Salton Sea and Tijuana regions as demonstration cases to show the use of imaging and GIS in concert with irrigation and pesticide problems as well as cross cultural and national boundary problems. Using the Imperial Valley campus and farmers and business people from the valley to provide practical expertise, Kazakh and Uzbek farmers and leaders could be trained in the use of practical techniques of improving their own countries using the imaging and GIS married to field relations between natural processes and farming and environmental impacts.

  10. Encourage the involvement of groups such as US AID and the World Bank in developing projects in the Central Asia region by helping define problems and means of solution.

  11. Encourage the involvement of earth science professionals in undertaking projects in the region by developing a background resource of information and data sets. Making an overview of these available to the geologic community through the publication of a Geological Society of America Special Paper on Environmental Imaging in Central Asia should make it far easier for others to contribute their expertise to solving problems in the region in the near future. This will also provide a union of scientists from Central Asia with their co-authors in the west who are both trying to write about the same problems and determine potential solutions.

  12. Reprint Russian publications and research reports in English with appropriate graphics to make them more accessible to workers in the U.S. These publications will be made available from the Central Asia Research and Remediation Exchange at SDSU or other groups working to help the people of Central Asia.

For further information or for providing suggestions on what can be done to help the people of Central Asia, please contact:

Prof. Eric G. Frost
Central Asia Research and Remediation Exchange (CARRE)
Dept. of Geological Sciences
San Diego State University
San Diego, CA 92182
FAX 619.594.4372

All images shown were produced by Lisa Heizer.
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Last modified: 22 October 1998