Controls on ground water chemistry in the central Couloir Sud Rifain, Morocco

Ground Water. 2010 Mar-Apr;48(2):306-19. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-6584.2008.00533.x. Epub 2008 Dec 30.


Irrigation, urbanization, and drought pose challenges for the sustainable use of ground water in the central Couloir sud rifain, a major agricultural region in north-central Morocco, which includes the cities of Fès and Meknès. The central Couloir is underlain by unconfined and confined carbonate aquifers that have suffered declines in hydraulic head and reductions in spring flow in recent decades. Previous studies have surveyed ground water flow and water quality in wells and springs but have not comprehensively addressed the chemistry of the regional aquifer system. Using graphical techniques and saturation index calculations, we infer that major ion chemistry is controlled (1) in the surficial aquifer by cation exchange, calcite dissolution, mixing with deep ground water, and possibly calcite precipitation and (2) in the confined aquifer and warm springs by calcite dissolution, dolomite dissolution, mixing with water that has dissolved gypsum and halite, and calcite precipitation. Analyses of (2)H and (18)O indicate that shallow ground water is affected by evaporation during recharge (either of infiltrating precipitation or return flow), whereas deep ground water is sustained by meteoric recharge with little evaporation. Mechanisms of recharge and hydrochemical evolution are broadly consistent with those delineated for similar regional aquifer systems elsewhere in Morocco and in southern Spain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Morocco
  • Water Movements*
  • Water Supply / analysis*