Natural Springs: Hydrogeology, Hydrogeochemistry and Therapeutic Value

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


This chapter discusses the hydrogeology, hydrochemistry and the therapeutic value of permanent UAE springs, e.g., Khatt (Ras Al Khaimah), Maddab (Fujairah) and Bu Sukhanah (Abu Dhabi). The springs are controlled by geologic structures, discharge of various rock types and their location at particular elevations.

Results of this study showed that the 1984–1991 spring discharge rates ranged from 0.06 million m3 (Mm3/year) (Maddab) to 2.50 Mm3/year (Bu Sukhanah), with little change during this period. Based discharge rates, the sequence of the UAE springs in descending order is: Bu Sukhanah (second; discharge 2.5 is m3/s), Khatt north and Khatt south (fourth; discharges are 0.51 and 0.69 m3/s, respectively) and Maddab (fifth; discharge is 0.31 m3/s). The rainfall–discharge correlation showed that the amount of flow of Khatt springs is directly proportional to rainfall intensity. In contrast, the discharge rates of the Maddab and Bu Sukhanah springs are not directly related to rainfall intensity.

Heavy groundwater exploitation during the period 1984–1991 appears to be the main cause of the increasing salinity of springs water, however, the increase of the salinity of the Bu Sukhanah spring’s water, with almost a triple increase in its discharge during the period 1984–1991, needs further investigation. High spring-water temperatures (30 °C, Maddab; 39 °C, Khatt north; 39.5 °C, Bu Sukhanah; 41 °C, Khatt south) can be related to deep groundwater circulation or radioactive decay at depth, as in the case of Bu Sukhanah spring.

Plotting the 1991 and 1994 chemical analyses on Piper’s diagram revealed that the springs’ water types are the chloride of sodium and bicarbonate of magnesium. The sulphate (SO42− = 561–1862 mg/L) water of Bu Sukhanah spring (SO42− = 561–1862 mg/L) suggests older age than the bicarbonate (HCO3 = 200–322 mg/L) water of Khatt springs.

The calculated SAR of the water of the studied UAE permanent springs decreases from 15 in Bu Sukhanah to one at Maddab Spring, showing that springs’ water is generally unsuitable for irrigation of conventional crops. However, the water of all UAE springs has a therapeutic value because of their warm water and high sulphur content.


  1. Alsharhan AS, Rizk ZS, Nairn AEM, Bakhit DW, Alhajari SA (2001) Hydrogeology of an arid region. The Arabian gulf and adjoining areas. Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, p 331Google Scholar
  2. Chebotarev II (1955) Mechanisms of natural waters in the crust of weathering. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 8:22–48, 137–170, 198–212Google Scholar
  3. El-Shami F (1990) The hydrochemistry of the spring at Ain bu Sukhanah, UAE. Arab J Scient Res 8(1):33–49Google Scholar
  4. Fetter CW (1988) Applied hydrogeology, 2nd edn. Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, p 592Google Scholar
  5. Ghoneim A (1991) Study regional geography – part I, physical geography of the U. A. E.: reading for all for publication and distribution, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, p 242 (in Arabic)Google Scholar
  6. MAF (Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries) (1993) Hydrology, v. 3. Water and Soil Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, United Arab Emirates, p 294Google Scholar
  7. Meinzer OE (1923) The occurrence of groundwater in the United States, with discussion of principles. U. S. Geological Survey Water Supply Paper 489Google Scholar
  8. Meyboom P (1966) Groundwater studies in the Assiniboine River drainage basin—I. the evolution of a flow system in south central Saskatchewan. Geol Surv Can Bull 139:65Google Scholar
  9. Mohamed MM, Al-Suwaidi N, Ebraheem A, Al Mulla A (2016) Groundwater modeling as a precursor tool for water resources sustainability in Khatt area, UAE. Environ Earth Sci 75(400):18Google Scholar
  10. Piper AM (1944) A graphic procedure in the geochemical interpretation of water analysis. Trans Am Geophys Union 25:914–928CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Richards LA (ed) (1954) Diagnosis and improvement of saline and alkali soils, Agriculture handbook 60. U. S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC, p 160Google Scholar
  12. Rizk ZS, El-Etr HA (1997) Hydrogeology and hydrogeochemistry of some springs in the United Arab Emirates. Arab J Sci Eng King Fahd Univ Petrol Mineral Dhahran Saudi Arab 22(1C):95–111Google Scholar
  13. Rizk ZS, Alsharhan AS (2003) Water resources in the United Arab Emirates. In: Alsharhan AS, Wood WW (eds) Water resources perspectives. Evaluation, management and policy, Developments in water science, vol 50. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 245–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Rizk ZS, Alsharhan AS (2008) Water resources in the United Arab Emirates. Ithraa Publishing and Distribution, Amman, Jordan, p 624 (in Arabic)Google Scholar
  15. Terratest Ltd (1975) Abu Dhabi mineral survey—Stage II. Detailed investigation of promising areas, Final report. Phase II. Ain bu Sukhanah (unpublished report)Google Scholar
  16. Todd DK, Mays LW (2005) Groundwater hydrology, 3rd edn. Wiley, Hoboken, p 656Google Scholar
  17. Todd DK, Todd DK (1980) Groundwater hydrology, 2nd edn. Wiley, New York, p 535Google Scholar
  18. Toth J (1963) A theoretical analysis of groundwater flow in small drainage basins. J Geophys Res 68:4795–4812CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Toth J (1980) Cross-formational gravity flow groundwater: a mechanism of the transport and accumulation of petroleum (the generalized hydraulic theory of petroleum migration). In: Roberts WH, Cordell RJ (eds) Problems of petroleum migration. AAPG Studies in Geology, no. 10, pp 121–167Google Scholar
  20. Toth J (1986) Post-paleocene evolution of regional groundwater flow systems and their relation to petroleum accumulations, Taber Area, Southern Alberta, Canada. Bull Can Petrol Geol 34(3):339–363Google Scholar
  21. U. S. Salinity Laboratory Staff (1954) Diagnosis and improvement of saline and alkaline soils. U. S. Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Handbook 60, p 160Google Scholar
  22. WHO (World Health Organization) (1971) International standards for drinking water, 3rd edn, GenevaGoogle Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations