Aquatic Geochemistry

, Volume 24, Issue 5–6, pp 325–344 | Cite as

Hydrogeochemical Processes in a Small Eastern Mediterranean Karst Watershed (Nahr Ibrahim, Lebanon)

  • N. Hanna
  • B. LartigesEmail author
  • V. Kazpard
  • E. Maatouk
  • N. Amacha
  • S. Sassine
  • A. El SamraniEmail author


Watersheds located in semiarid areas such as the eastern Mediterranean are particularly sensitive to the impact of climate change. To gain knowledge on the hydrogeochemical processes occurring in the Nahr Ibrahim watershed, a Critical Zone Observatory in Lebanon, we analyze the isotopic composition of the river water as well as the concentrations of the major ions exported (Ca2+, Mg2+, HCO3, Na+, Cl, K+, SO42−). Sampling campaigns were conducted from March 2014 to August 2016 to capture contrasting hydrological conditions. The results indicate that the carbonate lithology of the watershed is the predominant source of Ca2+, Mg2+ and HCO3, whereas the low contents of Na+, Cl, K+, SO42− mainly originate from sea spray. Except in the headwaters, the Nahr Ibrahim River is oversaturated with respect to calcite and dolomite. During wet seasons, calcite weathering and dolomite weathering contribute in an equivalent manner to the solute budget, whereas during dry seasons, calcite precipitates in the river. The isotopic composition of the river water reveals little seasonal dependency, the groundwater recharge by snowmelt infiltration leading to spring waters depleted in heavier isotopes during the dry seasons. A carbonate weathering rate of about 176 t/km2/year was determined at the outlet of the Nahr Ibrahim watershed. The calculated values of CO2 partial pressure, on average twice the atmospheric pressure, suggest that the river is a significant source of CO2 to the atmosphere (111 t/year).


Karst watershed Nahr Ibrahim River Carbonate weathering Water isotopes 



This project was supported by grants from the Lebanese University and the Lebanese Council for Scientific Research. Nour Hanna and Antoine El Samrani also gratefully acknowledge the support of Azm and Saadé Association. The authors would like to thank the Remote Sensing Center of the Lebanese National Council for Scientific Research (NCSR-L) and the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI) for providing us with the needed data and measurements relative to the Nahr Ibrahim watershed during the period of study. The authors would also like to thank Mr. Hussein Kanbar, Mrs Yara Rahmé and Mr Hamze Mohieddine for their assistance during the sampling campaigns. Insightful suggestions on the manuscript from Dr. C. Destrigneville were also appreciated.

Supplementary material

10498_2018_9346_MOESM1_ESM.docx (74 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 73 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geosciences Environment Toulouse, (UMR CNRS-UPS 5563 IRD 234)University of Toulouse (Paul Sabatier)ToulouseFrance
  2. 2.EDST-PRASE, Laboratoire Geoscience, Georessources and Environment (L2GE), Faculty of SciencesLebanese UniversityBeirutLebanon
  3. 3.Lebanese Scientific Research Council, Center of Remote SensingMansouriehLebanon

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