Formation of a salt plume in the Coastal Plain aquifer of Israel: the Be'er Toviyya region

Avner Vengosh, Arie Ben-Zvi

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The formation and development of a salt plume (salinity up to 800 mg Cl 1-1) in the inner part of the Coastal Plain aquifer of Israel is analyzed. Massive groundwater exploitation during the 1950s caused a large drop in the water level and formation of a hydrologic depression in the Be'er Toviyya-Kefar Warburg area. The depression reached a maximal depth during the late 1960s; thereafter a reduction in the rate of pumpage led to restoration of water levels and shallowing of the depression, until its complete disappearance towards the end of the 1980s. A spot of high salinity first appeared in 1956, following a deep drawdown in the water levels. This saline plume has been continuously expanding with increasing salinity concentrations (200-800 mg Cl 1-1) in its center. The average rate of radial expansion was about 50 m year-1. The expansion and salinization did not cease as the depression disappeared. Rather, equalization of water levels in wells situated within the plume area with those of situated along its margins resulted in the salinization of the latter within a period of 1 year. Mass balances for water and chloride contents were made for the period 1967-1990. Taking into consideration the storage change, pumpage, natural replenishment and artificial recharge, the lateral inflow to the depression is estimated as 60 × 106 m3. Upon addition of the chloride balance, and taking into consideration the chloride concentrations of the surrounding fresh water and the apparent possible end-member of the saline source (based on geochemical considerations), the saline inflow is estimated as (40-60) × 106 m3. These estimates indicate that a large amount of saline water penetrated into the aquifer, of about half of the natural replenishment of the study area, with an estimated salinity of 1900-2700 mg Cl 1-1. It is suggested that the salt plume was formed as a result of a drop in water level combined with a flow of underlying saline water bodies from deeper strata. The chemical composition of the groundwater points to the existence of two saline water bodies of Ca-chloride composition and a marine Br Cl ratio: (1) saline water with low Na Cl (0.6), So4 Cl, and B/Cl ratio; (2) saline water with higher Na Cl (> 0.6), So4 Cl, and B/Cl ratios. These chemical compositions resemble Ca-chloride saline waters found in other locations in the Coastal Plain aquifer and in underlying formations. The saline water bodies may occur in either pockets at the bottom of the aquifer or lumachelle and sandstone layers of high hydraulic conductivity in underlying sediments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-52
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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