Hydrogeological and hydrogeochemical characterization of a karstic mountain region

ŞİMŞEK C., ELÇİ A., Gunduz O., Erdogan B.

ENVIRONMENTAL GEOLOGY, vol.54, no.2, pp.291-308, 2008 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 54 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2008
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s00254-007-0817-4
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.291-308
  • Keywords: allochthonous karstic aquifer, hydrogeology, isotopic composition, water quality, Nif Mountain, Turkey, GROUNDWATER, PROTECTION, HYDROLOGY, AREA
  • Dokuz Eylül University Affiliated: Yes


Karstic limestone formations in the Mediterranean basin are potential water resources that can meet a significant portion of groundwater demand. Therefore, it is necessary to thoroughly study the hydrogeology and hydrogeochemistry of karstic mountain regions. This paper presents a detailed hydrogeological and hydrogeochemical characterization of the Nif Mountain karstic aquifer system in western Turkey, an important recharge source for the densely populated surrounding area. Based on the geological and hydrogeological studies, four major aquifers were identified in the study area including the allochthonous limestone in Bornova flysch, conglomerate-sandstone and clayey-limestone in Neogene series, and the Quaternary alluvium. Physicochemical characteristics of groundwater were measured in situ, and samples were collected at 59 locations comprised of springs and wells. Samples were analyzed for major ions, isotopic composition, arsenic, boron and heavy metals among other trace elements. It was found that the hydrogeological structure is complex with many springs having a wide range of discharge rates. High-discharge springs originate from allochthonous limestone units, whereas low-discharge springs are formed at the contacts with claystone and limestone units. Using stable isotope analysis data, a delta O-18-deuterium relationship was obtained that lies between the Mediterranean meteoric and mean global lines. Tritium analyses showed that low-discharge springs originating from contact zones had longer circulation times compared to the high-discharge karstic springs. Furthermore, hydrogeochemical data revealed that groundwater quality significantly deteriorated as water moved from the mountain to the plains. Heavy metal, arsenic and boron concentrations were generally within drinking-water quality standards with a few exceptions occurring in residential and industrial areas located at the foothills of the mountain. Elevated arsenic concentrations were related to local geologic formations, which are likely to contain oxidized sulfite minerals in claystones. It is concluded that Nif Mountain overall has a significant potential to provide high-quality water with a safe yield of at least 50 million m(3)/year, which corresponds to about 28% of the mean annual inflow to the Tahtali reservoir, a major water resource for the city of Izmir.