Management of Carbonate Aquifers

  • Stephen R. H. WorthingtonEmail author


Carbonate aquifers are common globally and are widely utilized due to their high permeability. Advances in recent decades in understanding dissolution kinetics have facilitated the numerical modeling of dissolutional enhancement of permeability. This has shown how the dissolution results in an interconnected network of channels that not only results in high permeability but also in rapid groundwater velocities. The high permeability often results in a lack of surface water and thick unsaturated zones, so utilization of groundwater is often from low-elevation springs, especially in mountainous areas. Groundwater divides may not coincide with surface-water divides, sometimes resulting in jurisdictional issues over exploitation of the groundwater. Contaminant transport in carbonates is more complicated than in porous medium aquifers. Transport through the channels may be several orders of magnitude faster than transport through the matrix of the rock. This results in complicated contaminant plumes and makes carbonate aquifers more susceptible to bacterial contamination than other aquifer types.


Hydraulic Conductivity Sewage Treatment Plant Karst Aquifer Channel Network Carbonate Aquifer 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Worthington GroundwaterDundasCanada

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