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Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 59, Issue 7, pp 1475–1484 | Cite as

Mass balance simulation and principal components analysis applied to groundwater resources: Essaouira basin (Morocco)

  • Paula Galego Fernandes
  • Paula M. Carreira
  • Mohammed Bahir
Original Article

Abstract

The water resources of the Essaouira coastal basin (west of Marrakesh) are characteristic of a semi-arid climate and are severely impacted by the climate in terms of quantity and quality. Considering the importance of the Essaouira aquifer in the groundwater supply of a vast region (nearly 1,200 km2), a research study was conducted in order to better understand groundwater evolution in this aquifer system. It is a coastal aquifer located on the Atlantic coastline, southern Morocco, and salinization problems have been reported. Covering the Palaeozoic bedrock, the sedimentary series range from the Triassic to the Quaternary. Besides the possibility of seawater intrusion problems, the geological structures delineate a syncline bordered by the Tidzi diapir (of Triassic age) outcropping to the east and south. This is a recharge area for the aquifer, whereas the main groundwater flow direction is from SE to NW towards the Atlantic Ocean. In spite of the occurrence of calcareous and dolomitic levels, all waters in the Essaouira basin are of the Na–Cl-type. Based on a range of experimental methodologies, combined with PCA and geochemical modelling, it was possible to identify the mineralization processes occurring in the groundwater system, and the importance of the water–rock interaction in the water chemistry. Scenarios were tested using a simple mass balance model through the PHREEQC programme. The reaction path was assumed to be such that waters observed at shallow depths evolved to more mineralized waters. An important contribution of water–rock interaction in groundwater mineralization was found, corroborating the influence of preferential recharge from the Tidzi diapir in the water’s signature. Anthropogenic contamination was also identified and could lead to serious problems with groundwater degradation in the near future, in a country with scarce water resources.

Keywords

Essaouira basin aquifer Hydrogeochemistry Mass balance model Principal component analysis 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) and GRICES for their contribution to the development of cooperation between Portugal and Morocco through the Instituto Tecnologico e Nuclear and Faculté des Sciences Semlalia. Also, the authors would like to thank Doutor Christopher Ian Burbidge for the English review.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paula Galego Fernandes
    • 1
  • Paula M. Carreira
    • 1
  • Mohammed Bahir
    • 2
  1. 1.Instituto Tecnológico e NuclearSacavémPortugal
  2. 2.Laboratoire d’HydrogeologieFaculté des Sciences SemlaliaMarrakechMorocco

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