Determination of pollution and recovery time of karst springs, an example from a carbonate aquifer in Israel

Einat Magal, Yuval Arbel, Sarit Caspi, Hilel Glazman, Noam Greenbaum, Yoseph Yechieli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


This work combines the monitoring of two incidents of spring water pollution in the Western Galilee region of Israel, together with artificial tracer tests that provided valuable information regarding karst system connections and direct estimation of groundwater velocities. Almost simultaneous contamination of seven springs endangered the water supply for the region. The variations over time in contaminant concentration in the different springs were not similar, indicating more than one contamination source. Tracer tests revealed two different pollution sources that contributed to two different conduit pathways in the karst system. Breakthrough data for the tracers were modeled by a two-region non-equilibrium transport model, which provided the transport parameters of the karst conduit. Groundwater velocities in the conduits were found to be in a range of 2-3 km/day. The rapid response of the system was also demonstrated by the short recovery time of the springs, where, after the elimination of the pollution source, most water quality parameters reverted to their background concentrations in less than 3 months. The coexistence of highly polluted springs and uncontaminated groundwater in boreholes penetrating into the same aquifer demonstrates the complexity of groundwater flow in karst systems. In such systems, the fast groundwater flow in localized karst conduits seems to coexist with a slower flow within other portions of the aquifer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-36
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
StatePublished - 7 Jan 2013


  • Karst hydrogeology
  • Karst springs
  • Keywords
  • Pollution recovery
  • Uranine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology


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