Ophiolite Aquifer

  • Abdulrahman S. Alsharhan
  • Zeinelabidin E. Rizk
Part of the World Water Resources book series (WWR, volume 3)


The Semail ophiolite rocks represent a low-productivity aquifer in the eastern and northeastern UAE. But, it can function as a good aquifer where it is faulted, fractured and jointed. The aquifer’s average transmissivity and specific yield are 776 m2/d and 0.24, respectively.

Despite the high transmissivity and storativity of the ophiolite fractured aquifer in the eastern UAE, the thickness, distribution and recharge mechanism for the aquifer are poorly defined. The groundwater quality in the aquifer is good because its matrix is hardly soluble in water. But, the salinity increases with increasing depth due to lower density of fractures, smaller size of cracks and slow groundwater-flow velocity.

The three structural zones affecting the ophiolite aquifer are: the Wadi Ham line, Dibba zone and Hatta zone. The result of a Transient Electromagnetic (TDEM) survey revealed the presence of two aquifers separated by an aquiclude.

The upper aquifer has a variable thickness, increasing from 60 m, at the foothills of the eastern mountain ranges, to 160 m in a northwest–southeast trending trough. The aquifer trough is composed of gravel of the Neogene age and has minor marl and sandstone intercalations. The aquifer’s maximum thickness is 200 m, decreasing to 70 m in the southwest.

The middle aquiclude is composed of impermeable Paleogene shale, claystone, marl and dolomite, and attains 300 m north of Falaj Al Mualla, decreasing to 50 m southeast of Al Dhaid City.

The lower aquifer is more productive along the Dibba zone and includes Aruma Group and Semail ophiolites of the Maastrichtian to Pre-Cretaceous ages. The influence of lineaments on groundwater chemistry is an indirect result of their control on groundwater-flow velocity and residence time.

The salinity of groundwater in the ophiolite aquifer is generally low in the east and increases in the groundwater-flow directions towards the west, northwest and southwest. Lineaments affect the dominance of dissolved ions in groundwater, particularly magnesium (Mg2+) and bicarbonate (HCO3) ions, which are the most dominant ions in the eastern part of the aquifer. The Dibba zone and Wadi Ham line have cold (32 °C) groundwater that is rich in Mg2+ and HCO3.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Abdulrahman S. Alsharhan
    • 1
  • Zeinelabidin E. Rizk
    • 2
  1. 1.Middle East Geological and Environmental EstablishmentDubaiUnited Arab Emirates
  2. 2.University of Science and Technology of FujairahFujairahUnited Arab Emirates

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