Ionic and isotopic ratios for identification of salinity and missing data in the Gaza aquifer

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Journal of Hydrology





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Groundwater is the only source of fresh water in the Gaza Strip. However, it is severely polluted and requires immediate effort to improve its quality and increase its usable quantity. Intensive exploitation of groundwater in the Gaza Strip over the past 40 years has disturbed the natural equilibrium between fresh and saline water, and has resulted in increased salinity in most areas. Salinization in the coastal aquifer may be caused by a single process or a combination of different processes, including seawater intrusion, upconing of brines from the deeper parts of the aquifer, flow of saline water from the adjacent Eocene aquifer, return flow from irrigation water, and leakage of wastewater. Each of these sources is characterized by a distinguishable chemistry and well known isotopic ratios. In this paper Na/Cl, SO4/Cl, Br/Cl, Ca/(HCO3+SO4), and Mg/Ca ionic ratios were used to distinguish different salinization sources. δ11B and 87Sr/86Sr isotopic composition were also included in the model to study their importance in this monitoring task. The task of monitoring and the associated decision making process are characterized by a high degree of uncertainty with respect to input data and accuracy of models. For this reason, probabilistic expert systems, and more specifically, Bayesian belief networks (BBNs) are used to identify salinization origins. The BBN model incorporates the theoretical background of salinity sources, area-specific monitoring data that are characteristically incomplete in their coverage, expert judgment, and common sense reasoning to produce a geographic distribution for the most probable sources of salinization. The model is also designed to show areas where additional data on chemical and isotopic parameters are needed.

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