Assessment of groundwater salinity using GIS and multivariate statistics in a coastal Mediterranean aquifer

  • H. FerchichiEmail author
  • M. F. Ben Hamouda
  • B. Farhat
  • A. Ben Mammou


The integration of the statistical approaches and GIS tools with the hydrogeological and geological contexts allowed the assessment of the processes that cause groundwater quality deterioration in the great important deltaic aquifer in the northeastern Tunisia (Medjerda Lower Valley Aquifer). The spatial variation of the groundwater parameters and the molar ratio (Cl/Br) were also used to determine the possible impacts from seawater intrusion and from the septic tank leachate. Sixty shallow groundwater samples were collected in 2014 and analyzed for major and trace ions over an area of about 1090 km2 to determine the suitability for drinking or agricultural purposes. The total dissolved solids (TDS) content ranges from 1005 to 19,254 mgl−1 with a mean value of 3477.18 mgl−1. The chemistry is dominated by the sodium–chloride waters (55%). Mapping of TDS, Cl, Na+, SO42− and NO3 using kriging method shows a clear increase in salinity toward the coastline accompanied by Na+ and Cl increase which may be related to seawater intrusion and halite dissolution. Locally, higher nitrate concentration is related to the agricultural activities inducing contribution of chemical fertilizers and irrigation with treated wastewater. The saturation indices indicate that all carbonate minerals tend to reach saturation equilibrium confirming water–rock interactions, while evaporitic minerals are still in sub-saturation state and may increase the salinity of the groundwater. The principal component analysis proves the occurrence of groundwater contamination principally by seawater intrusion in the factor I (74.15%) and secondary by an anthropogenic source in the factor II (10.35%).


Groundwater salinization Hydrochemistry Geostatistics Coastal aquifer Tunisia 



The authors are very grateful to the Director of National Nuclear Research Institute for making funds available for this work. We also thank all the Technicians of the Isotope Hydrology and Geochemistry Unit, Technopark Sidi Thabet, Tunisia, for helping us during the sampling campaigns as well as the analysis.


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Copyright information

© Islamic Azad University (IAU) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Ferchichi
    • 1
    Email author
  • M. F. Ben Hamouda
    • 2
  • B. Farhat
    • 1
  • A. Ben Mammou
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Sciences of Tunis, Department of Geology, Mineral Resources and Environment Laboratory (LRME)University of Tunis El ManarTunisTunisia
  2. 2.UMTN, Isotope Hydrology and Geochemistry UnitCNSTNSidi ThabetTunisia

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