Characterization of groundwater flow and vulnerability assessment of karstic aquifers - Development of a travel time based approach and application to the Tanour and Rasoun spring catchment (Ajloun, NW-Jordan)


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August 2016


Understanding the karst aquifer response to precipitation and contaminants transport, especially in arid to semi-arid areas, is a very important issue and a challenge due to the unique and heterogeneous characteristics of karst aquifers. Monitoring the water travel time through karst aquifers and the response to precipitation events can provide good information about the characteristics of water and pollutant flow through the aquifer. This can subsequently help provide proper protection for the aquifer against pollution to sustain the water resources for the coming generations. Within this study, different methods and approaches were developed and applied in order to characterise the karst aquifer system of the Tanour and Rasoun springs and the flow dynamics within the aquifer and to develop a process-oriented method for vulnerability assessment based on the monitoring of different multi-spatially variable parameters of travel time. The karst aquifer of the Tanour and Rasoun springs (about 75 km2 northwest of the capital city of Amman) catchment area (~ 36 km2) was chosen as a case study due to the pollution events that occur at both of the springs, the high importance of these karst springs as the primary local drinking water supply for the surrounding villages and to fill a gap in the literature regarding the characteristics of the karst aquifer in this area. To better understand the vulnerability of the karst aquifer of the Tanour and Rasoun springs to pollution events and the capability of the aquifer for the natural attenuation of pollutants based on the natural characteristics of the aquifer itself, COP and EPIK intrinsic vulnerability assessment methods were applied. Based on the applied COP method, spatial distribution of groundwater vulnerability is as follows: (1) high (37%), (2) moderate (34.8%), (3) low (20.1%), and (4) very low (8.1%). While in the EPIK vulnerability assessment method, only two out of four vulnerability classes characterise the catchment area: very highly vulnerable areas (38.4%) and


Karst Aquifers, Vulnerability Assessment, Water Travel Time, Hydrogeology, Jordan

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