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Saturated and unsaturated River Nile/groundwater aquifer interaction systems in the Nile Valley, Egypt


Surface water bodies interact with underlying aquifer systems, creating a complex flow system and flow paths. In general, a surface water body may be classified as gaining, losing, or flow through on the basis of its interaction with the surrounding aquifer. In the Nile Valley, the quaternary aquifer system is in a direct hydraulic interaction with the River Nile, canals, and drains. In this study, a regional numerical model was developed and used to evaluate the interaction between surface water bodies and the quaternary aquifer system in the Nile Valley. The solution is considered for a quasi three-dimensional, steady-state groundwater flow. The model used simulates the interaction between surface water bodies and groundwater for saturated and unsaturated flow conditions. In addition, a hydrodynamic model was used to simulate different extreme (high and low) scenarios for Nile surface water levels along the distance between Old Aswan Dam and Delta Barrages. Model calibration shows close results, and the model was used to simulate surface water levels. Results indicate that the Nile River acts as a drain for the quaternary aquifer (gaining water from the aquifer), although in the reaches upstream of the main barrages, the Nile loses the water, recharging the aquifer. All other main canals are recharging the aquifer system. The seepage rate depends mainly on the difference in piezometric head between the aquifer system and surface water bodies, as well as the hydraulic conductance of the base layer sediments of the surface water body. The model was used to evaluate the regional water balance for the Nile Valley and to estimate the surface water bodies' gains and losses.

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Correspondence to Mohamed A. Dawoud.

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Dawoud, M.A., Ismail, S.S. Saturated and unsaturated River Nile/groundwater aquifer interaction systems in the Nile Valley, Egypt. Arab J Geosci 6, 2119–2130 (2013).

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  • Surface water
  • Groundwater
  • Recharge
  • Groundwater flow
  • Seepage
  • Infiltration
  • Numerical modeling
  • Analytical solution
  • River Nile