Mapping the vulnerability of groundwater to the contamination of four carbonate aquifers in Europe


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Journal of Environmental Management

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The vulnerability of four European aquifers with different hydrogeological and climatic characteristics was evaluated using the COP method. The results obtained were statistically analyzed by determination coefficients to measure which factor has greater importance in the vulnerability index. Furthermore, a new parameter has been designed to measure the vulnerability for the whole of the aquifer. The results demonstrate that COP is a useful method to assess the vulnerability of the test sites under consideration. The results obtained are coherent with the conceptual model of each pilot aquifer and the available hydrogeological information (hydrographs, isotopic data, tracer tests). Fissured carbonate aquifers (diffuse flow systems) are less vulnerable than karst aquifers (conduit flow systems) and the vulnerability index is more positively correlated with the O factor (unsaturated zone protection capacity) in the first case. The karst aquifers are more vulnerable than fissured aquifers and they show a higher correlation between the C factor (karst features) and the vulnerability index. Climatic variation (precipitation for example) influences the final vulnerability index of the aquifers according to the weight in the index and the spatial distribution.

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