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Heavy Metal Pollution in the Kura River Basin


Remote Sensing Methods to Assess Heavy Metal Pollution in the Kura River Basin

Tech Area / Field

  • INF-COM/High Performance Computing and Networking/Information and Communications

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Information and Automation Problems Institute, Armenia, Yerevan

Supporting institutes

  • GIS and RS Consulting Center GeoGraphic, Georgia, Tbilisi\nGeorgian Research and Educational Networking Association, Georgia, Tbilisi\nTbilisi State University, Georgia, Tbilisi\nCenter for Ecological Noosphere Studies, Armenia, Yerevan


  • Research Institute for Informatics of Toulouse, France, Toulouse\nTufts University / School of Arts & Sciences, USA, MA, Medford\nHungarian Academy of Sciences / Computer and Automation Research Institute, Hungary, Budapest\nCentral and Eastern European Networking Association, Poland, Warsaw\nDigitalGlobe, USA, CO, Longmont\nEnvironmental Systems Research Institute, Inc., USA, CA, Redlands\nWest Virginia University, USA, WV, Morgantown\nOregon State University, USA, OR, Corvallis\nTechnical University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania, Cluj-Napoca\nGreek Research & Technology Network S.A., Greece, Athens\nUniversiteit Antwerpen, Belgium, Antwerpen\nThe University of Cyprus, Cyprus, Nicosia

Project summary

For more than a decade the role of electronic infrastructures in conducting science, related research, as well as promoting innovation, has been steadily increasing. The development of new advanced techniques such as simulations performed in computers, the availability of instruments and a deluge of scientific data combined with the rapidly developing underlying information and communication technologies have changed the way science is conducted today, leading to a shift towards the so-called electronic-Science or e-Science. Е-Science enables both intra-and inter-scientific collaborations among researchers, in some cases without any sophisticated means.

In the past years, a number of international Projects have been contributed to ameliorating the state of e-Infrastructures in the South Caucasus region. Within the framework of the ISTC Projects A-823 (Creation of High-Performance Computation Cluster and Databases in Armenia), A-1451 (Development of Scientific Computing Grid on the Base of Armcluster for South Caucasus Region) and A-1606 (Development of Armenian-Georgian Grid Infrastructure and Applications in the Fields of High Energy Physics, Astrophysics and Quantum Physics) a sustainable Grid infrastructure has been deployed in the region. It is important also to mention the SEE GRID SCI (South East European Grid e-Infrastructure for regional e-Science) and BSI (Black Sea Interconnection) targeted initiatives funded by the European Commission via its RTD programs that make possible to integrate with the European Grid infrastructures and have a high-speed backbone network to the pan-European research and education GÉANT2 network.

At the mean time E-science tools are widely employed when managing ecology issues, the most essential of them being environmental pollution. Of special interest in environmental pollution research are GIS and remote sensing technologies as tools promoting development of novel techniques of operative assessment of the status and dynamics of pollution of separate environmental compartments such as water, soil, vegetation.

Environmental pollution is one of major concerns to the South Caucasus. Some adjacent sites between Armenia and Georgia comprise active deposits, on which base several mining plants operate representing a source of environmental pollution with different pollutants, one of the most hazardous of them being heavy metals (HM). The major pathways of HM traveling all across the region are water arteries. The basic load falls on small rivers belonging to River Kura basin which underlies the shared irrigation network. Irrigation with heavy metal holding waters may lead to heavy metal accumulation in soils and consequent transfer to food chains in a system irrigation water-soil-vegetation-the man, threatening thus the safety of population.

The main objective of this Project is to deploy a regional research universal infrastructure for the monitoring of frontier farmlands and decision-making in this context. The infrastructure will provide mechanisms and tools for fast detection of sources and definition of levels of HM pollution, which is crucial for the safety of the population. The core of the infrastructure will consists of accepted international standards and tools, which will allow integrating easily to similar international infrastructures (EnviroGRIDS, EGI SAFE, etc.). Remote sensing methods for estimation of a condition of the frontier farmlands will be developed by using multispectral and hyperspectral space imagery.

As the entire process of complex eco-geochemical researches rather work-intensive, demanding strong financial support and time, the implementation of operative remote sensing methods will considerably reduce the process, becoming the important tool on a stage of indication of pollution. The methods require huge amount of computational resources (Grid infrastructure) in order to process and analyze multispectral and hyperspectral satellite images. At the same time, realization of the Project will play a significant role in development of an information infrastructure in Armenia and Georgia and will serve an extra surge to its movement towards an information society.

The expected results of the Project will include:

  • Integrated distributed database of frontier agricultural soils.
  • Database of spectral signatures and characteristics of the contents of separate HM and different levels of summary pollution of environment compartments.
  • Environment of oriented satellite image processing platform.

Scientific and practical results obtained under the Project will be transferred, in a usable format, as recommendations to the governmental organizations and companies responsible for the environmental protection, agriculture, food safety, prediction and rescue work during natural disasters. The Project would establish a basis for further activities directed to reduction of ecological risk in the region, as well as close collaboration of scientists and policy-makers in this field.

The Project will allow the weapon scientists and engineers to redirect their knowledge and skills to peaceful activities. Additionally, it will support the research and technology development in the field of ecological risk assessment and its reduction.

Foreign collaborators have actively joined the Project and will interact with its participants in the following areas:

  • attend technical advisory committee sessions for each area of the Project, contributing and guiding the Project implementation, as well as participate in regular meetings;
  • exchange information during the Project implementation;
  • provide peer review of the Project results;
  • participate in the semi-annual Project review meetings;
  • give comments on the Technical Progress Reports submitted to the ISTC;
  • organize participatory symposiums and seminars;
  • provide assistance through leveraging funds from the related projects funded by other agencies;
  • accept the Project participants at western universities and laboratories;
  • disseminate the valuable results of the Project and identify other sources of support.