Assessment of groundwater vulnerability to nitrates using the GIS-based DRASTIC and SI methods: a case study in Zacharo area, Greece

Environ Monit Assess. 2023 Jan 10;195(2):286. doi: 10.1007/s10661-022-10882-3.


A vulnerability assessment of the aquifers in the agricultural area of Zacharo in SW, Peloponnese, Greece, was conducted using the DRASTIC index and the susceptibility index (SI). Sensitivity analysis was conducted and thematic maps for each parameter were generated to analyse the impact of individual parameter on the collective groundwater vulnerability. Results derived from the DRASTIC and SI maps revealed that the extremely highly vulnerable zones are concentrated at three coastal sites in the western part of the study area. Data from these maps also indicate low vulnerability areas throughout the eastern part of the region. The distribution of nitrate concentrations in groundwater is better correlated with the DRASTIC (79.2%) compared to SI (60.2%). Neither method takes into consideration the impact of dilution and nitrate to ammonium reduction, on the nitrate content of groundwater, thus overestimating the vulnerability index. Moreover, the SI method overestimates the impact of olive groves' land use type on the susceptibility index, thus resulting to a lower correlation with the observed nitrate concentrations.

Keywords: Aquifer; Contamination; DNRA; DRASTIC; Dilution; Sensitivity analysis; Vulnerability.

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Greece
  • Groundwater* / analysis
  • Nitrates* / analysis
  • Water Pollution / analysis


  • Nitrates