Carbonates and Evaporites

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 220–235 | Cite as

Karst and hydrogeology of Lebanon

  • H. S. Edgell


Karst is very well-developed in Lebanon in thick, exposed, fractured and folded Jurassic, Cretaceous, and Eocene carbonates, as well as in localized, coastal Miocene limestones. This karstification not only results from the predominant calcareous lithology, but is also caused by the high, northerly trending ranges of the country, which cause abundant precipitation, as heavy rain and thick snow, to fall on Mt. Lebanon, Jabal Barouk, Jabal Niha, and Mt. Hermon. Lesser amounts fall on the Anti-Lebanon, Beqa'a Valley and the coastal hills of the country. Some 80% of precipitation occurs from November through February. The karst water emerges from five first-magnitude springs (Ain ez Zarqa (11m3/sec), Ain Anjar (max. 10m3/sec), Nabaa Ouazzani (max. 6m3/sec), Nabaa Arbaain (max. 3m3/sec) and Nabaa Barouk (max. 3m3/sec), plus hundreds of second- and third-magnitude springs, and thousands of smaller springs. The large springs are all karstic and contribute to 13 perennial springs in the main Lebanese ranges, and 2 in the Anti-Lebanon. These include major rivers, such as the Nahr el Litani, Nahr el Assi (Orontes) and Nahr el Hasbani (upper Jordan River).

More than two-thirds of the area of Lebanon (i.e. 6900 km2) is karstified and includes surface karst features, such as poljes, uvalas, dolines, blind valleys, natural bridges, and ponors, as well as smaller features, like karren and hoodoos. Subsurface karst features include many types of solutional shafts and galleries, grottoes, subsurface lakes and rivers and most types of speleothems.

There are at least 15 aquifers in Lebanon, of which 14 are in karstified carbonate strata. The 1700m thick limestone/dolomite core of the ranges and over 2000m thickness of flanking, or overlying, Cretaceous limestones provide the majority of these aquifers, while significant aquifers are also found in thick Eocene limestones.

High transmissivity values (T=or> 1.83×10−1 m2) occur in these karstic aquifers, as is shown by the rapid decline in spring flow over the dry summer and autumn months, and their very quick recharge by winter and spring rains and heavy snow on the Lebanese ranges.


Cretaceous Jurassic Cenomanian Middle Miocene Middle Eocene 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. ADAMS, R.D. and BARAZANGI, M., 1984, Seismotectonics and seismology in the Arab region: a brief summary and future plans:Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, v. 74, p. 1011–1030.Google Scholar
  2. ADDISON, H., 1961, Land, Food, and Water. Chapman and Hall, London, 284 p.Google Scholar
  3. ANGENIEUX, J., 1951, Une combination de mouvements-verticaux et de mouvements tangentiels dans l'évolution structurale de Liban:Bulletin de la Société géologique de France, v. 6, p. 285–301.Google Scholar
  4. BESANCON, J., 1968, Le poljé de Yammouné, Hannon:Beyrouth, v. 3, p. 1–6.Google Scholar
  5. BEYDOUN, Z.R., 1977, Petroleum prospects of Lebanon: reevaluation:American Association of Petroleum Geologists, v. 61, p. 43–64.Google Scholar
  6. BOGLI, A., 1980, Karst Hydrology and Physical Speleology. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 284 p.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. BURGER, A. and DUBERTRET, L., (eds.), 1975, Hydrogeology of karstic terrains, with a multilingual glossary of specific terms. International Union of Geological Sciences, Paris, v. 8, no. 3.Google Scholar
  8. DAVIS, S.N. and DE WIEST, R.J.M., 1966, Hydrogeology. John Wiley and Sons, New York, 463 p.Google Scholar
  9. DUBERTRET, L., 1933, L'hydrologie et aperçu sur l'hydrographie de la Syrie et du Liban dans leur relations avec la géologie:Revue de Géographie physique et de Géologie dynamique, v. 6, p. 347–452.Google Scholar
  10. DUBERTRET, L., 1948, Apercu de geographie physique sur le Liban, l'Anti-Liban et la Damascene:Notes et Mémoires sur le Moyen-Orient Syrie et Liban, v. 4 (Études géologiques et géographiques sur le Liban, la Syrie et le Moyen Orient):Beyrouth, v. 4, p. 191–226.Google Scholar
  11. DUBERTRET, L., 1943–53, Carte géologique au 1/50,000 de la Syrie et du Liban, 21 sheets with explanatory notes, Ministère des Travaux Publics, L'Impremierie Catholique, Damas et Beyrouth.Google Scholar
  12. BUBERTRET, L., 1955, Carte géologique du Liban au 200,000 avec notice explicative, Ministère des Travaux Publics, 1–74, 8 pls., 1 map, L'Imprimerie Catholique, Beyrouth.Google Scholar
  13. DUBERTRET, L., 1955, Carte géologique du Liban au 200,000 avec notice explicative, Ministère des Travaux Publics, 1–74, 8 pls., 1 map, L'Imprimerie Catholique, Beyrouth.Google Scholar
  14. DUBERTRET, L., 1963, Liban, Syrie: chaîne des grands massifs côtiers et confins à l'Est, p. 6–144,in Lexique Stratigraphique International, v. 3, fascicule 10cl, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris.Google Scholar
  15. EDGELL, H.S., 1968, Paleontological report on the Samakieh water well, Ministry of Water and Electric Resources, (open file report), Beirut, p. 1–7.Google Scholar
  16. EDGELL, H.S., 1969, Microfaunal Basis for the Cretaceous/Tertiary Limit in Lebanon. American University of Beirut, Ninth Annual Research Report for 1967–68, Heidelberg Press-Lebanon, p. 22–23.Google Scholar
  17. EDGELL, H.S., 1996, Karst and hydrogeology of Lebanon. 30th International Geological Congress, Beijing, Abstracts, v. 3, p. 318.Google Scholar
  18. EDGELL, H.S. and BASSON, P.W., 1975, Calcareous algae from the Miocene of Lebanon, Micropaleontology, American Museum of Natural History, New York, v. 21, p. 165–184.Google Scholar
  19. FETTER, C.W., 1980, Applied Hydrogeology. Merrill Publishing Company, Columbus, 487 p.Google Scholar
  20. FORD, D.C. and WILLIAMS, P.W., 1989, Karst Geomorphology and Hydrology. Unwin Hyman, London, 601 p.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. GUERRE, A., 1969, Étude hydrogeologique préliminaire des karsts Libanais. Hannon, Beirut, v. 4, p. 64–92.Google Scholar
  22. HAZZAA, I.B., 1970, Investigations of undergroundwater in Lebanon using radioisotopes, Proceedings of the Symposium, National Council for Scientific Research, Lebanon, and Middle Eastern Regional Isotope Center for the Arab Countries, Beirut.Google Scholar
  23. JENNINGS, J.N., 1971, Karst, An Introduction to Systematic Geomorphology. The M.I.T. Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, v. 7, p. 1–251.Google Scholar
  24. KAREH, R., 1967, Les sources sous-marines de Chekka (Liban-Nord). Exploitation d'une nappe karstique captive à exutoires sous-marins. Hannon, Beyrouth, v. 2, p. 35–39.Google Scholar
  25. MEINZER, O.E., 1923, Outline of groundwater hydrology with definitions:U.S. Geological Survey Water Supply Paper, v. 494, p. 1–71.Google Scholar
  26. MROUEH, M., JAAFAR, H., MAKHOULE, G. and MANSOUR, K., 1996, Evaluation of the water resources and water balance of Southern Lebanon, 30th International Geological Congress of Beijing, Abstracts, v. 3, p. 256.Google Scholar
  27. PFANNKUCH, H.O., 1969, Elsevier's Dictionary of Hydrogeology-In Three Languages. Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 168 p.Google Scholar
  28. QUENELL, A.M., 1958, The structure and evolution of the Dead Sea rift:Quarterly Journal Geological Society, v. 64, p. 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. QUENNELL, A.M., 1984, The Western Arabia rift system, p. 775–788,in Dixon, J.E. and Robertson, A.H.F., (eds), The Geological Evolution of the Eastern Mediterranean, Geological Society Special Publication no. 17.Google Scholar
  30. RENOUARD, G., 1955, Oil Prospects of Lebanon:Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, v. 29, p. 2125–2169.Google Scholar
  31. RON, H., 1987, Deformation along the Yammouneh, the restraining bend of the Dead Sea Tranform; Palaeomagnetic data and kinematic implications:Tectonics, v. 6, p. 653–666.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. UKAYLI, M.A., 1971, Hydrogelogy of Beirut and Vicinity. M.S. Thesis, American University of Beirut, Beirut, 136 p.Google Scholar
  33. WETZEL, R. and DUBERTRET, L., 1951, Carte Géologique au 1∶50,000, Feuille de Tripoli avec notice explicative, Ministère des Travaux Publics, Beyrouth, p. 1–61.Google Scholar
  34. WOLFART, R., 1967, Geologie von Syrien und dem Libanon. Beiträge zur regionalen geologie der Erde. Gebruder Borntraeger, Berlin, v. 6, p. 326.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. S. Edgell
    • 1
  1. 1.CamberraAustralia

Personalised recommendations