Comparison of different groundwater vulnerability evaluation models of typical karst areas in north China: a case of Hebi City


Groundwater pollution is a serious problem in north China. However, the study on the vulnerability of karst groundwater is mainly in south China, and there are few studies in north China. To study the applicability of different models of karst areas in north China, this paper chose a special study area—Hebi City, where the exposed karst area is widely developed in the hilly area, but the covered karst area is in the eastern part of the study area. The DRASTIC model, the AHP-DRASTIC model, and the improved COPK model were adopted to evaluate the vulnerability of shallow karst groundwater in Hebi City. Cl, SO42−, NO3, and TDS were selected to verify the rationality of the evaluation results. It shows that the improved COPK model is more suitable for the shallow karst groundwater vulnerability evaluation in the karst areas in northern China represented by the study area than the other two. The study area was divided into 4 classes by the improved COPK model: highest (14.07%), high (53.05%), low (21.37%), and lowest (11.51%). Then, the analytic hierarchy process and comprehensive index model were used to evaluate the groundwater pollution load intensity, and the study area was divided into 3 classes: high (23.33%), moderate (64.66%), and low (12.01%). According to the analysis of the relationship between groundwater pollution load intensity and groundwater quality, it can be found that human activities have an obvious influence on groundwater quality in the study area. Finally, combined with human activities, the study area was divided into 3 remediation areas, 1 control area, and 1 protected area. This paper can provide a scientific basis for rational exploitation and utilization of groundwater resources. It can also provide a reference for future generations to evaluate the groundwater vulnerability in the northern China karst areas.

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Special thanks to Lin Gao for his great help in field sampling and Qian Liang for her great help in English expression improvement.


This paper was supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, China University of Geosciences (Wuhan) (No.: CUGCJ1822).

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YQ conducted field sampling and drew the pictures and was a major contributor in writing the manuscript. CM modified the manuscript and provided a general idea. JQ and XW conducted laboratory sample testing. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Chuanming Ma.

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• The covered karst and exposed karst are developed simultaneously in the study area.

• 3 models were adopted for evaluation and the results of each model were compared.

• The COPK model was improved according to the actual situation of the study area.

• The improved COPK model is more suitable for the study area.

• Suggestions on the prevention and control of groundwater pollution were put forward.

Responsible Editor: Marcus Schulz

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Qiu, Y., Ma, C., Qian, J. et al. Comparison of different groundwater vulnerability evaluation models of typical karst areas in north China: a case of Hebi City. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2021).

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  • Hebi City
  • Shallow karst groundwater
  • Groundwater vulnerability
  • Model comparison
  • COPK model
  • Groundwater pollution