Peace and Science in the Middle East

Science Center Objects

This project is complete and the website is archived and no longer updated.

The ancient cultures of the Middle East and the modern political conflicts there are shaped by a surprisingly diverse and youthful landscape. The landscape of the region is dominated by a narrow elongate (20-30 km wide) valley, that is surrounded by the western highlands of Israel and the Palestinian Territories, and the eastern highlands of Jordan. Much of this valley is below sea level, including the deepest place on the Earth surface, the Dead Sea at –420 meters. The topographic barriers were significant enough to help create different kingdoms and cultures, yet not significant enough to prevent interaction among these cultures through commerce and war. The north-south oriented valley was also an important migration route for early humans, and is still a migration route for flora and fauna, particularly, birds, from Africa to Eurasia.

 The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Middle Eastern Regional Cooperation Program (MERC) has funded two multinational projects of geophysical study of the Dead Sea rift and its surrounding. The first project was conducted between 1996-1998 by the Geophysical Institute of Israel, the Natural Resources Authority of Jordan, and the U.S. Geological Survey. Its goal was to merge of the Jordanian and Israeli data bases of the gravity field and conduct joint interpretation. The second project was conducted between 2001-2005 by the Geophysical Institute of IsraelAl-Balqa' Applied University of JordanAl-Najah University in the Palestinian Authority, and the U.S. Geological Survey. It had two goals, to map the subsurface fault structure using a high-resolution airborne magnetic survey across the international border, and to study the deep structure of the plate boundary and its surrounding highlands using seismic refraction methods