Geochemical study of groundwater mineralization in the Grombalia shallow aquifer, north-eastern Tunisia: implication of irrigation and industrial waste water accounting


Hydrochemistry of groundwater is largely determined by both natural processes, such as dissolution, cation exchange, mixing, evaporation; and anthropogenic activities, which can affect the aquifer systems by contaminating them or by modifying their hydrological cycle. Both natural and anthropogenic processes vary in time and space; which is reflected in groundwater hydrochemistry variation. The objective of this study is the determination of the main hydrogeochemical processes that affect the quality of shallow groundwaters in the Grombalia basin, located in the Cap Bon Peninsula, north-eastern Tunisia. In this area, the chemical composition of groundwater is mostly characterized by Na–Cl–NO3–Ca water type which reveals the implication of natural and anthropogenic major factors. Natural factors are dissolution of evaporatic minerals, i.e. halite and gypsum and cation exchange with clays, while anthropogenic factors are pollution with industrial Sr-rich waste water and return flow of irrigation water, highly contaminated by MgSO4 and methyl-bromide fertilizers.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12
Fig. 13
Fig. 14
Fig. 15
Fig. 16
Fig. 17
Fig. 18


  1. Adams S, Tredoux G, Harris C, Titus R, Pietersen K (2001) Hydrochemical characteristics of aquifers near Sutherland in the Western Karoo, South Africa. J Hydrol 241:91–103

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Ben Ayed N (1993) Évolution tectonique de l’avant-pays de la chaîne alpine de la Tunisie du début du Mésozoïque à l’Actuel. Ph.D. thesis, University of Paris 11, Orsay

  3. Ben Salem H (1995) Évolution de la péninsule du Cap Bon (Tunisie orientale) au cours du Néogène. Notes Serv Geol Tunis 61:73–84

    Google Scholar 

  4. Castany G (1948) Les fossés d’effondrement de Tunisie. Ann Min Geol Tunis, p 3

  5. Castany G (1967) Traité pratique des eaux souterraines, 2nd edn edn. Ed Dunod, Paris, p 471

    Google Scholar 

  6. Chihi L (1995) Les fossés néogènes à quaternaires de la Tunisie et de la mer Pélagienne: une étude structurale et une signification dans le cadre géodynamique de la Méditerranée centrale. Ph.D. thesis, University of Tunis II

  7. Garcia MG, Del Hidalgo M, Blesa MA (2001) Geochemistry of groundwater in the alluvial plain of Tucuman province, Argentina. J Hydrol 9:597–610

    Google Scholar 

  8. Gi-Tak C, Kangjoo K, Seong T, Kyoung H, Soon O, Byoung Y, Hyoung S, Chul W (2004) Hydrogeochemistry of alluvial groundwaters in an agricultural area: an implication for groundwater contamination susceptibility. Chemosphere 55:369–378

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Hitchon B, Perkins EH, Gunter D (1999) Introduction to groundwater geochemistry. Geoscience Publishing Ltd, Sherwood Park, p 310

    Google Scholar 

  10. Mc Lean W, Jankowski J, Lavitt N (2000) Groundwater quality and sustainability in alluvial aquifer, Australia. In: Sililo O et al (eds) Groundwater, past achievement and future challenges. Bolkema, Rotterdam, pp 567–573

  11. Piper AM (1944) A graphic procedure in the geochemical interpretation of water-analyses. Trans Am Geophys Union 25:914–923

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Richer BC, Kreitler CW (1993) Geochemical techniques for identifying sources of groundwater salinization. CRC, Boca Raton

    Google Scholar 

  13. Stigter TY, Carvalho AM, Ribeiro L, Reis E (2006) A impact of the shift from groundwater to surface water irrigation on aquifer dynamics and hydrochemistry in a semi-arid region in the south of Portugal. Agric Water Manage 85:121–132

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Zhu GF, Li ZZ, Su YH, Ma JZ, Zhang YY (2007) Hydrogeochemical and isotope evidence of groundwater evolution and recharge in Minqin Basin, Northwest China. J Hydrol 333:239–251

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Amor Ben Moussa.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Ben Moussa, A., Zouari, K. & Oueslati, N. Geochemical study of groundwater mineralization in the Grombalia shallow aquifer, north-eastern Tunisia: implication of irrigation and industrial waste water accounting. Environ Geol 58, 555–566 (2009).

Download citation


  • Na–Cl–NO3–Ca water type
  • Dissolution
  • Cation exchange
  • Industrial waste water
  • Irrigation return flow
  • Fertilizers