Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 74, Issue 6, pp 4787–4802 | Cite as

Origin and salinity of groundwater from interpretation of analysis data in the mining area of Oumjrane, Southeastern Morocco

  • Yassine Ait Brahim
  • Abdelfattah Benkaddour
  • Mbark Agoussine
  • Anasse Ait Lemkademe
  • Latifa Al Yacoubi
  • Lhoussaine Bouchaou
Original Article


Under the arid climate in the southern sub-Saharan catchments of Morocco, groundwater is the only permanent water supply. Usually, the groundwater is scarce because of the low recharge. However, the mining activities in Oumjrane area (Eastern Anti-Atlas Mountains) reveal that water resources are relatively abundant in the fissured Ordovician aquifer. To understand this phenomenon, geochemical and isotopic investigations were carried out in the region. The results show that the quality of water is variable in superficial and deep aquifers. The specific conductivities range from 0.44 to 10 mS/cm. Most groundwater samples from the deep aquifer indicate high salinity, low pH, and CO2 anomalies. Geochemical analyses show that groundwater concentrations are mainly controlled by (i) evaporite dissolution (halite and gypsum), (ii) cation exchange with clay minerals, (iii) silicate hydrolysis, and (iv) dedolomitisation. Carbonate precipitation takes place in the groundwater issuing from the mine sector. The discharge is estimated at 386 T/year downstream of the Bounhass mine. Moreover, stable isotope (δ2H and δ18O) and chemical analyses reveal a clear difference between the alluvial and deep aquifers. They also show a local recharge for the alluvial aquifer from Saghro inliers. Low isotope ratios are found in the Ordovician formation aquifer, indicating a deep water circulation. These waters could originate from the High Atlas and/or Saghro Mountains and flow through fissures and fault networks. Connections to regional faults and veins may play a role in it, as well as the proximity of the major contact with the High Atlas.


Geochemistry Salinity Stable isotopes Arid environment Eastern Anti-Atlas Morocco 



We would like to express our deep gratitude to the editors and the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive remarks.

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yassine Ait Brahim
    • 1
  • Abdelfattah Benkaddour
    • 2
  • Mbark Agoussine
    • 3
  • Anasse Ait Lemkademe
    • 4
  • Latifa Al Yacoubi
    • 1
  • Lhoussaine Bouchaou
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Applied Geology and Geo-EnvironmentIbn Zohr UniversityAgadirMorocco
  2. 2.Laboratory of GeoresourcesCadi Ayyad UniversityMarrakechMorocco
  3. 3.Laboratory of Industrial EngineeringIbn Zohr UniversityAgadirMorocco
  4. 4.MANAGEMCasablancaMorocco

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