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Factors controlling mechanisms of groundwater salinization and hydrogeochemical processes in the Quaternary aquifer of the Eastern Nile Delta, Egypt

, : Factors controlling mechanisms of groundwater salinization and hydrogeochemical processes in the Quaternary aquifer of the Eastern Nile Delta, Egypt. Environmental Earth Sciences 68(2): 369-394

In this study, combining interpretations of conservative dissolved ions and environmental isotopes in water were used to investigate the main factors and mechanisms controlling groundwater salinization and hydrogeochemical processes in the Eastern Nile Delta, Egypt. Hydrogeochemical and isotopic study has been carried out for 61 water samples from the study area. Total dissolved solid (TDS) contents of groundwater are highly variable rising along flowpath from the south (41 mg/L) to the north (14,784 mg/L), implying significant deterioration and salinization of groundwater. Based on TDS and ionic ratios, groundwater samples were classified into three groups. In low-saline groups, water chemistry is greatly influenced by cation exchange, mineral dissolution/precipitation, anthropogenic pollutants and mixing with surface water. Whilst, in high-saline groups, water chemistry is affected by salt-water intrusion, reverse cation exchange and evaporation. The chemical constituents originating from saline water sources, reverse ion exchange and mineral dissolution are successfully differentiated using ionic delta and saturation index approaches. The ?18O ?2H relationship plots on a typical evaporation line, suggesting potential evaporation of the recharging water prior to infiltration. Isotope evidence concludes that the groundwater have been considerably formed by mixing between depleted meteoric water recharged under different climatic conditions and recently infiltrating enriched surface water and excess of irrigation water. The ?18O data in conjunction with chloride concentrations provide firm evidence for impact of dissolution of marine-origin evaporite deposits, during past geologic periods, on groundwater salinity in the northern region. Moreover, the relation between 14C activities and Cl? concentration confirms this hypothesis.


DOI: 10.1007/s12665-012-1744-6

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