, Volume 36, Issue 3-4, pp 285-295

Spatial and temporal study of nitrate concentration in groundwater by means of coregionalization

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 Spatial and temporal behavior of hydrochemical parameters in groundwater can be studied using tools provided by geostatistics. The cross-variogram can be used to measure the spatial increments between observations at two given times as a function of distance (spatial structure). Taking into account the existence of such a spatial structure, two different data sets (sampled at two different times), representing concentrations of the same hydrochemical parameter, can be analyzed by cokriging in order to reduce the uncertainty of the estimation. In particular, if one of the two data sets is a subset of the other (that is, an undersampled set), cokriging allows us to study the spatial distribution of the hydrochemical parameter at that time, while also considering the statistical characteristics of the full data set established at a different time.

This paper presents an application of cokriging by using temporal subsets to study the spatial distribution of nitrate concentration in the aquifer of the Lucca Plain, central Italy. Three data sets of nitrate concentration in groundwater were collected during three different periods in 1991. The first set was from 47 wells, but the second and the third are undersampled and represent 28 and 27 wells, respectively. Comparing the result of cokriging with ordinary kriging showed an improvement of the uncertainty in terms of reducing the estimation variance. The application of cokriging to the undersampled data sets reduced the uncertainty in estimating nitrate concentration and at the same time decreased the cost of the field sampling and laboratory analysis.

Received: 23 July 1997 · Accepted: 31 March 1998