Investigating the salinization and freshening processes of coastal groundwater resources in Urmia aquifer, NW Iran
This paper presents the results of an assessment about interaction between Urmia Lake (UL) and coastal groundwater in the Urmia aquifer (UA). This aquifer is the most significant contributor to the freshwater supply of the coastal areas. The use of hydro chemical facies can be very useful to identify the saltwater encroachment or freshening phases in the coastal aquifers. In this study, the analysis of salinization/freshening processes was carried out through the saturation index (SI), ionic deltas (Δ),binary diagrams, and hydro chemical facies evolution (HFE) diagram. Based on the Gibbs plot, the behavior of the major ions showed that the changes in the chemical composition of the groundwater are mainly controlled by the water-soil/rock interaction zone and few samples are relatively controlled by evaporation. A possible
Explanation for this phenomenon is that the deposited chloride and sulfate particles can form the minor salinity source in some coastal areas when washed down by precipitation. The SI calculations showed that all groundwater samples, collected in these periods, show negative saturation indices, which indicate under saturation with respect to anhydrite, gypsum, and halite. In addition, except in a few cases, all other samples showed the under saturation with respect to the carbonate minerals such as aragonite, calcite, and dolomite. Therefore, these minerals are susceptible to dissolution. In the dry season, the SI calculations showed more positive values with respect to dolomite, especially in the northern part of UA, which indicated a higher potential for precipitation and deposition of dolomite. The percentage of saltwater in the groundwater samples of Urmia plain was very low, ranging between 0.001 and 0.79 % in the wet season and 0.0004 and 0.81 % in the dry season. The results of HFE diagram, which was taken to find whether the aquifer was in the saltwater encroachment phase or in the freshening phase, indicated that except for a few wells near the coast, there is very little hydraulic interaction between UA and UL. In this coastal area, most of the samples that were collected repeatedly in both wet and dry seasons showed the same hydro chemical facies, which suggested that the seasonal groundwater fluctuations cannot significantly change the chemical composition of groundwater.