Groundwater temperature and electrical conductivity as tools to characterize flow patterns in carbonate aquifers: The Sierra de las Nieves karst aquifer, southern Spain


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Publication Date

November 2008


In carbonate massifs, flow patterns are conditioned by karstification processes which develop a conduit network and preserve low permeability microfractured blocks. The Sierra de las Nieves karst massif (southern Spain) is subjected to a given climatic and geological context, and thus it is possible to analyse the spatial and temporal variability of the water temperature and electrical conductivity at its main karst outlets, which display different responses to rainfall episodes. In this experimental field area, conduit flow and diffuse flow drainage patterns have been distinguished by combining groundwater temperature and electrical conductivity data. Both parameters show large variations in water coming from conduit flow systems and low variations in water drained by springs draining diffuse flow systems. However, groundwater temperature displays the smallest variations, which seems to indicate that this parameter is less sensitive as regards characterising the degree of karstification, which is a key question in characterising the aquifer functioning.


Karst, Groundwater Temperature, Electrical Conductivity, Conduit And Diffuse Flow Systems, Spain

Document Type



Hydrogeology Journal, Vol. 17 (2008-11-29).