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Groundwater flow and chemistry of the oases of Al Wahat, NE Libya

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Abstract
The quality and geochemistry of groundwater are significantly affected by the depositional environment of aquifer sediments. Miocene sediments in Al Wahat area (Jalu, Awjilah and Shakherah Oases) in the Libyan Desert at the north-east of the country have been deposited in fluvial marginal marine and marine environments. The purposes of this paper are to describe the areal distribution of the dominant water quality constituents, to identify the major hydro-geochemical processes that affect the quality of water and to evaluate the relations of sedimentary depositional environments and groundwater flow to the quality and geochemistry of water in aquifer sediments of Post-Eocene. This study is the first investigation in Al Wahat Oasis and also in the whole Sahara, which introduces the importance of considering the end members and the synsedimentary influence for the interpretation of the aquifer hydrochemistry. The area involved in this study is within the boundaries 28 degrees N-30 degrees N and 21 degrees E-23 degrees E. Eighteen wells are selected in the area, including eight piezometers, and ten samples were analysed from wells used for domestic and agricultural purposes. Results show high and significant increase in total dissolved solids, especially Na+, Cl-, SO42- and NO3- compared with the previous years. The chemical results for the groundwater samples in Al Wahat are classified according to the Stuyfzand groundwater classification system; the water type is mostly brackish and brackish-saline NaCl in the downstream direction and fresh-brackish NaHCO3 upstream. These water types indicate that groundwater chemistry is changed by cation exchange reactions during flushing of the diluted saline aquifer by freshwater from the south. The different stages of cation exchange produce a chromatographic sequence of groundwater types. These cation exchange reactions during the freshening process occur mainly in the intercalated clay, resulting in a Na+ increase, and peaks of K+ and Mg2+ in the aquifer. In the north, the synsedimentary marine influence on the groundwater is stronger and the abstraction for irrigation is higher. Upconing of deep saline water and anthropogenic pollution may contribute significantly to the aquifer water quality. Calcite equilibrium and gypsum dissolution are also important hydrochemical processes in the aquifer.
Keywords
MODEL, BELGIUM, SYSTEM, NW-LIBYA, SUBSIDENCE, Chromatographic sequence, SIRTE BASIN, FRESHENING AQUIFER, Freshening, Marine deposits, Cation exchange reactions, EASTERN LIBYA, SARIR SANDSTONE, JIFARAH PLAIN, (Post-Eocene) Post-Nubian Aquifer, Libyan Desert, Al Wahat area, Sirte Basin

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

MLA
Alfarrah, Nawal et al. “Groundwater Flow and Chemistry of the Oases of Al Wahat, NE Libya.” ENVIRONMENTAL EARTH SCIENCES 75.12 (2016): n. pag. Print.
APA
Alfarrah, N., Hweesh, A., Van Camp, M., & Walraevens, K. (2016). Groundwater flow and chemistry of the oases of Al Wahat, NE Libya. ENVIRONMENTAL EARTH SCIENCES, 75(12).
Chicago author-date
Alfarrah, Nawal, Abdelrahim Hweesh, Marc Van Camp, and Kristine Walraevens. 2016. “Groundwater Flow and Chemistry of the Oases of Al Wahat, NE Libya.” Environmental Earth Sciences 75 (12).
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Alfarrah, Nawal, Abdelrahim Hweesh, Marc Van Camp, and Kristine Walraevens. 2016. “Groundwater Flow and Chemistry of the Oases of Al Wahat, NE Libya.” Environmental Earth Sciences 75 (12).
Vancouver
1.
Alfarrah N, Hweesh A, Van Camp M, Walraevens K. Groundwater flow and chemistry of the oases of Al Wahat, NE Libya. ENVIRONMENTAL EARTH SCIENCES. 2016;75(12).
IEEE
[1]
N. Alfarrah, A. Hweesh, M. Van Camp, and K. Walraevens, “Groundwater flow and chemistry of the oases of Al Wahat, NE Libya,” ENVIRONMENTAL EARTH SCIENCES, vol. 75, no. 12, 2016.
@article{8112550,
  abstract     = {The quality and geochemistry of groundwater are significantly affected by the depositional environment of aquifer sediments. Miocene sediments in Al Wahat area (Jalu, Awjilah and Shakherah Oases) in the Libyan Desert at the north-east of the country have been deposited in fluvial marginal marine and marine environments. The purposes of this paper are to describe the areal distribution of the dominant water quality constituents, to identify the major hydro-geochemical processes that affect the quality of water and to evaluate the relations of sedimentary depositional environments and groundwater flow to the quality and geochemistry of water in aquifer sediments of Post-Eocene. This study is the first investigation in Al Wahat Oasis and also in the whole Sahara, which introduces the importance of considering the end members and the synsedimentary influence for the interpretation of the aquifer hydrochemistry. The area involved in this study is within the boundaries 28 degrees N-30 degrees N and 21 degrees E-23 degrees E. Eighteen wells are selected in the area, including eight piezometers, and ten samples were analysed from wells used for domestic and agricultural purposes. Results show high and significant increase in total dissolved solids, especially Na+, Cl-, SO42- and NO3- compared with the previous years. The chemical results for the groundwater samples in Al Wahat are classified according to the Stuyfzand groundwater classification system; the water type is mostly brackish and brackish-saline NaCl in the downstream direction and fresh-brackish NaHCO3 upstream. These water types indicate that groundwater chemistry is changed by cation exchange reactions during flushing of the diluted saline aquifer by freshwater from the south. The different stages of cation exchange produce a chromatographic sequence of groundwater types. These cation exchange reactions during the freshening process occur mainly in the intercalated clay, resulting in a Na+ increase, and peaks of K+ and Mg2+ in the aquifer. In the north, the synsedimentary marine influence on the groundwater is stronger and the abstraction for irrigation is higher. Upconing of deep saline water and anthropogenic pollution may contribute significantly to the aquifer water quality. Calcite equilibrium and gypsum dissolution are also important hydrochemical processes in the aquifer.},
  articleno    = {985},
  author       = {Alfarrah, Nawal and Hweesh, Abdelrahim and Van Camp, Marc and Walraevens, Kristine},
  issn         = {1866-6280},
  journal      = {ENVIRONMENTAL EARTH SCIENCES},
  keywords     = {MODEL,BELGIUM,SYSTEM,NW-LIBYA,SUBSIDENCE,Chromatographic sequence,SIRTE BASIN,FRESHENING AQUIFER,Freshening,Marine deposits,Cation exchange reactions,EASTERN LIBYA,SARIR SANDSTONE,JIFARAH PLAIN,(Post-Eocene) Post-Nubian Aquifer,Libyan Desert,Al Wahat area,Sirte Basin},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {12},
  pages        = {24},
  title        = {Groundwater flow and chemistry of the oases of Al Wahat, NE Libya},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12665-016-5796-x},
  volume       = {75},
  year         = {2016},
}

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