Hydrogeological characterization of Dasht-e-Arjan Lake (Zagros Mountains, Iran): clarifying a long-time question

  • Zargham MohammadiEmail author
  • Habib Mahdavikia
  • Ezzat Raeisi
  • Derek C. Ford
Original Article


Dasht-e-Arjan Lake is located in the southern Zagros mountain ranges of Iran. It is a tectonic karst polje, fed by a single spring plus local surface runoff, and drained by a single ponor. The fate of sinking water from the ponor had not been determined before this study. Previous investigations suggested two alternatives: (1) underground flow ~ 24 km southwest to Parishan Lake and/or springs in the Kazeron area, and (2) underground flow ~ 20 km southeast to springs at Domeasb Gorge. To clarify this question, an integrated hydrogeological study including a dye tracer test was undertaken. Comparison of the discharge into the Arjan ponor and the discharge of the Domeasb springs shows a reliable correlation. Further, annual water balance analysis reveals that the discharge at the Domeasb springs is too great for its topographic catchment, requiring a major additional source. The dye tracer test, using 5 kg of uranine, was detected only at the Domeasb springs. Flow through time after the dye injection was 210 h. The tracer breakthrough curves are very simple and sharp, with a clear peak concentration of 7 ppb. The total tracer mass recovery and groundwater flow velocity were estimated to be 58% and 105 m h−1, respectively. The results indicate a simple and direct limestone karst hydraulic connection along the geologic strike between Dasht-e-Arjan Lake and the Domeasb springs. The results clearly suggest the possibility of designing a dam around the ponor to protect drying up the lake during drought periods.


Polje Dye tracer test Karst Dasht-e-Arjan Lake Iran 



The authors are grateful to Research Affairs of Shiraz University for support in field studies and laboratory measurements. We would like to thank an anonymous reviewer for his/her relevant comments on this article.


  1. Adinehvand R, Raeisi E, Hartmann A (2017) A step-wise semi-distributed simulation approach to characterize a karst aquifer and to support dam construction in a data-scarce environment. J Hydrol 554:470–481. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alavi M (2004) Regional stratigraphy of the Zagros fold-thrust belt of Iran and its proforeland evolution. Am J Sci 304:1–20. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Assari A, Mohammadi Z (2017) Assessing flow paths in a karst aquifer based on multiple dye tracing tests using stochastic simulation and the MODFLOW-CFP code. Hydrogeol J 25:1679–1702. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bahrami S (2012) Morphotectonic evolution of triangular facets and wine-glass valleys in the Noakoh anticline, Zagros, Iran: implications for active tectonics. Geomorphology 159–160:37–49. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bakalowicz M (2005) Karst groundwater: a challenge for new resources. Hydrogeol J 13:148–160. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barmaki MD, Rezaei M, Ashjari J (2016) Recognition of karst hydrology and water resources interaction in Kazerun Karstic Zones, South of Iran. Arab J Geosci 9:1–13. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fars Regional Water Company (1983) Bushehr water supply project, water resources exploration studies: report on Kazeroon water resources. Shiraz, IranGoogle Scholar
  8. Field MS (2002) QTRACER2 program for tracer-breakthrough curve analysis for karst aquifers and other hydrologic systems. National Center for Environmental Assessment–Washington Office, Office of Research and Development, US Environmental Protection AgencyGoogle Scholar
  9. Ford DC, Williams P (2013) Karst hydrogeology and geomorphology. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  10. Goldscheider N, Drew D (2007) Methods in Karst hydrogeology: IAH: international contributions to hydrogeology, vol 26. CRC Press, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar
  11. Juvanec B (2016) Popovo Polje. A different view. Acta Carsologica 45(3):275–283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kalantari N, Pawar NJ, Keshavarzi MR (2009) Water resource management in the intermountain Izeh Plain, Southwest of Iran. J Mt Sci 6:25–41. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Karami GH, Bagheri R, Rahimi F (2016) Determining the groundwater potential recharge zone and karst springs catchment area: Saldoran region, western Iran. Hydrogeol J 24:1981–1992. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Vardanjani HK, Chitsazan M, Ford D, Karimi H, Charchi A (2018) Initial assessment of recharge areas for large karst springs: a case study from the central Zagros Mountains, Iran. Hydrogeol J 26:57–70. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kranjc A (2006) Seasonal Karst lake Cerknica (Slovenia)—2000 years of man versus nature. Helictite 39(2):39–46Google Scholar
  16. Krawczyk WE, Ford DC (2006) Correlating specific conductivity with total hardness in limestone and dolomite karst waters. Earth Surf P. Landforms 31:221–234. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. López-Chicano M, Calvache ML, Martín-Rosales W, Gisbert J (2002) Conditioning factors in flooding of karstic poljes—the case of the Zafarraya polje (South Spain). CATENA 49:331–352. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lukač Reberski J, Marković T, Nakić Z (2013) Definition of the river Gacka springs subcatchment areas on the basis of hydrogeological parameters. Geol Croat 66:39–53. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Mahab Ghods Consulting Company (1983) The study of origin of Kazeroon water resources. Tehran, Iran, p 150Google Scholar
  20. Mahdavikai H (2011) Identifying the path of sinking water from Arzhan Polje, Zagros Region. Shiraz University, ShirazGoogle Scholar
  21. Milanović P (2015) Karst of eastern Herzegovina, the Dubrovnik littoral and western Montenegro. Environ Earth Sci 74:15–35. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Milanovic P, Aghili B (1990) Hydrogeological characteristics and groundwater mismanagement of Kazerun karstic aquifer. IAHS Publication, Zagros, Iran, pp 163–171Google Scholar
  23. Mohammadi Z, Field M (2009) On the temporal behavior of karst aquifers, Zagros region, Iran: a geostatistical approach. J Cave Karst Stud 71:210–226. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mohammadi Z, Shoja A (2014) Effect of annual rainfall amount on characteristics of karst spring hydrograph. Carbonates Evaporites 29:279–289. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mohammadi Z, Raeisi E, Bakalowicz M (2007a) Method of leakage study at the karst dam site. A case study: Khersan 3 Dam, Iran. Environ Geol 52:1053–1065. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mohammadi Z, Raeisi E, Zare M (2007b) A dye-tracing test as an aid to studying karst development at an artesian limestone sub-aquifer: Zagros Zone, Iran. Environ Geol 52:587–594. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mohammadi Z, Illman WA, Karimi M (2018) Optimization of the hydrodynamic characteristics of a karst conduit with CFPv2 coupled to OSTRICH. J Hydrol 567:564–578. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mohammadi Z, Gharaat MJ, Field M (2019) The effect of hydraulic gradient and pattern of conduit systems on tracing tests: bench-scale modeling. Groundwater 57:110–125. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Moradi S, Kalantari N, Charchi A (2018) Geomorphology of karst features in the northeast of Khuzestan, Iran. Carbon Evaporites 33:107–121. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Motiei H (1995) Stratigraphy of zagros. Geological Survey Iran, TehranGoogle Scholar
  31. Mozafari M, Raeisi E (2017) Understanding Karst leakage at the Kowsar Dam, Iran, by hydrogeological analysis. Environ Eng Geosci XXI:325–339. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mozafari M, Raeisi E, Zare M (2012) Water leakage paths in the Doosti Dam, Turkmenistan and Iran. Environ Earth Sci 65:103–117. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nassery HR, Alijani F, Mirzaei L (2009) Environmental characterization of a karst polje: an example from Izeh polje, southwest Iran. Environ Earth Sci 59:99–108. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Nejati M (1992) Identification of the direction of sinking water from Arzhan Polje using hydrogeological and geological evidences. Shiraz, IranGoogle Scholar
  35. Palmer AN (1991) Origin and morphology of limestone caves. Geol Soc Am Bull 103:1–21.;2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Peely AB, Mohammadi Z, Raeisi E, Solgi K, Mosavi MJ, Kamali M (2018) Hydrogeological characterization of flow system in a karstic aquifer, Seymareh dam, Iran. J Afr Earth Sci. 143:266–277. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Raeisi E, Karami G (1997) Hydrochemographs of berghan karst spring as indicators of aquifer characteristics. J Cave Karst Stud 59:112–118Google Scholar
  38. Raeisi E, Kowsar N (1997) Development of Shahpour Cave, southern Iran. Cave Karst Sci 24:27–34Google Scholar
  39. Saadat H, Mohammadi Z (2018) Hydrogeological characterization of the Asmari limestone aquifer, Anar anticline, Zagros Region, Iran. Carbon Evaporites 33:29–41. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Saberi-Mehr S, Raeisi E (2018) Investigation of seepage flow path(s) in the right embankment of Sheshpeer Dam, the Zagros Region, Iran. Carbon Evaporites. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sadeghi M (2011) Hydrological approach of Arjan Polje protection, Zagros Region. Shiraz University, ShirazGoogle Scholar
  42. Smart PL, Atkinson TC, Laidlaw IMS, Newson MD, Trudgill ST (1986) Comparison of the results of quantitative and non-quantitative tracer tests for determination of Karst conduit networks: an example from the Traligill Basin, Scotland. Earth Surf Process Landforms 11:249–261. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Vrzel J, Solomon DK, Blažeka Ž, Ogrinc N (2018) The study of the interactions between groundwater and Sava River water in the Ljubljansko polje aquifer system (Slovenia). J Hydrol 556:384–396. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Worthington SRH (1991) Karst hydrogeology of the Canadian rocky mountains. McMaster University, CanadaGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of SciencesShiraz UniversityShirazIran
  2. 2.Department of GeographyMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

Personalised recommendations