Travel time based approach for the assessment of vulnerability of karst groundwater: the Transit Time Method


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Publication Date

July 2007


Karst aquifers represent important water resources in many parts of the world. Unfortunately, karst aquifers are characterised by high contamination risks. This paper presents a travel time based method for the estimation of karst groundwater vulnerability. It considers (1) physics-based lateral flow within the uppermost weathered zone (epikarst) in a limestone-dominated region and (2) high velocities of vertical infiltration at discrete infiltration points (e.g. sinkholes) or lines (e.g. dry valleys, faults). Consequently, the Transit Time Method honours the actual flow path within the unsaturated zone of a karst aquifer system. A test site in Northern Jordan was chosen for the demonstration of the assessment technique, i.e. the catchment area of the Qunayyah Spring north of the capital Amman. The results demonstrate that zones of highest vulnerability lie within valleys and nearby main fault zones. It also reveals that regions, categorised as protected areas by other methods due to thick unsaturated zones, contribute to a major degree to the total risk.


Groundwater Vulnerability, Karst, Transit Time Method

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Environmental Geology, Vol. 54 (2007-07-17).