A local natural background level concept to improve the natural background level: a case study on the drainage basin of the Venetian Lagoon in Northeastern Italy

  • Nico Dalla Libera
  • Paolo FabbriEmail author
  • Leonardo Mason
  • Leonardo Piccinini
  • Marco Pola
Thematic Issue
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Learning from spatial data: unveiling the geo-environment through quantitative approaches


This study analyzes a problem related to the definition of a natural background level (NBL) for naturally occurring contaminants. Specifically, it considers the definition of an arsenic NBL in groundwater because arsenic in alluvial aquifers is a worldwide problem that causes issues in human health. Currently, the European Union (through the BRIDGE project) has suggested several methods to estimate NBLs based on the quantity and quality of the available data, providing a unique NBL value for an investigated study area. This study suggests an improvement of the NBL concept by introducing the local NBL (LNBL). LNBLs are estimated considering an indicator geostatistical approach, which takes into account both the spatial distribution of arsenic and the geochemical relationships occurring inside the aquifer. The LNBL concept aims to provide detailed spatial information of the natural background level and prevents one from defining uncontaminated water sources as contaminated water sources, and vice versa. In this study, an application of the LNBL in the drainage basin of the Venetian Lagoon is proposed.


Natural background level (NBL) Local NBL (LNBL) Indicator cokriging (ICK) Water management Drainage basin of the Venetian Lagoon (DBVL) 



This work was funded by the Venice Province (Project “IDRO”, grant given to P. Fabbri). We thank the ARPAV agency, in particular the internal water observatory, for sharing their data concerning arsenic groundwater contamination in the DBVL.

Author contributions

The manuscript was written through contributions of all authors. All authors have given approval to the final version of the manuscript.


The authors declare no competing financial interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeosciencesUniversity of PadovaPaduaItaly
  2. 2.ARPAV, Department of VeniceMestreItaly

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