Vulnerability Assessment in Karstic Areas: Validation by Field Experiments

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Environmental Geology


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Several methods have been developed for vulnerability mapping in karstic areas. These methods need additional validation by field experiments. Several tests have been carried out in the Swiss Jura with natural and artificial tracers. The protective role of some intrinsic properties of the system, such as glacial deposits covering karst, epikarst storage and system dilution effect, have been clearly demonstrated. Use of three tracers in parallel showed the reactivity of the epikarst: all tracers arrived at the same time, but their relative concentration stayed clearly different. A classification of contamination scenarios into four classes is proposed. It is shown that the relevance of some intrinsic properties depends on the considered scenario class. The hydrodynamic state of the aquifer influences greatly flow velocities and can strongly modify contaminant concentrations at the output of the system. The spatial repartition (point vs diffuse) and the quantity of contaminant entering the system will also influence the output response. Hence, results from tracing experiments cannot be used straightforward for obtaining a representative value of flow velocity, dispersion or recovery rate.


Contamination scenario, Karst aquifer, Switzerland, Tracing test, Vulnerability

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