Groundwater vulnerability mapping for the Basaltic aquifer of the Azraq basin of Jordan using GIS, Remote Sensing and DRASTIC

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Al-Adamat, R Foster, I & Baban, SMJ 2003, 'Groundwater vulnerability mapping for the Basaltic aquifer of the Azraq basin of Jordan using GIS, Remote Sensing and DRASTIC', Applied Geography, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 303-324.

Applied Geography home page available at http://www.elsevier.com/locate/apgeog

Publisher's version of the article is availble at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeog.2003.08.007


Water consumption in Jordan already exceeds renewable freshwater resources by more than 20% and, after the year 2005, freshwater resources are likely to be fully utilised. Over 50% of supply derives from groundwater and this paper focuses on a small part of the northern Badia region of Jordan that is underlain by the Azraq groundwater basin where it has been estimated that annual abstraction stands at over 100% of the projected safe yield. While water supply is a crucial issue, there is also evidence to suggest that the quality of groundwater supplies is also under threat as a result of salinisation and an increase in the use of agrochemicals. Focusing on this area, this paper attempts to produce groundwater vulnerability and risk maps. These maps are designed to show areas of greatest potential for groundwater contamination on the basis of hydro-geological conditions and human impacts. All of the major geological and hydro-geological factors that affect and control groundwater movement into, through, and out of the study area were incorporated into the DRASTIC model. Parameters included; depth to groundwater, recharge, aquifer media, soil media, topography, and impact of the vadose zone. The hydraulic conductivity of the aquifer was not included in calculating the final DRASTIC index for potential contamination due to a lack of sufficient quantitative data. A Geographical Information System (GIS) was used to create a groundwater vulnerability map by overlaying the available hydro-geological data. The resulting vulnerability map was then integrated with a land use map as an additional parameter in the DRASTIC model to assess the potential risk of groundwater to pollution in the study area. The final DRASTIC model was tested using hydrochemical data from the aquifer. Around 84% of the study area was classified as being at moderate risk while the re mainder was classified as low risk. While the analysis of groundwater chemistry was not conclusive, it was encouraging to find that no well with high nitrate levels was found in the areas classified as being of low risk suggesting that the DRASTIC model for this area provided a conservative estimate of low risk areas. It is recognised that the approach adopted to produce the DRASTIC index was limited by the availability of data. However, in areas with limited secondary data, this index provides important objective information that could be used to inform local decision making.

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