Vulnerability assessment of urban groundwater resources to nitrate: the case study of Mashhad, Iran

Parisa Asadi, Behzad Ataie-Ashtiani, Aliasghar Beheshti

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    34 Citations (Scopus)


    Groundwater vulnerability assessment of urban areas is a challenging task in the fast trend of urbanization around the globe. This study introduces a new approach for modifying well-known parameters of common vulnerability indexes to adjust them for urban areas. The approach is independent of a specific weighting system. The aquifer of Mashhad city, contaminated by domestic wastewater, is selected as a case in this study. In order to evaluate the aquifer vulnerability due to anthropogenic activities, at first, parameters of depth to groundwater, recharge, land use, and soil are modified based on their basic concepts and their influences on contamination attenuation. Then, the modified parameters are used simultaneously in several index methods to investigate the capability of the modified parameters to increase correlation coefficient of all employed index methods with the measured nitrate concentration. Accuracy of the modified methods is evaluated by Spearman nonparametric correlation. It is shown that considering the wastewater discharge into recharge parameter leads to an increase of 20% in correlation coefficient. Also, level difference technique shows that more than 70% of the vulnerable areas are predicted correctly in all utilized methods. The accurate prediction in all employed methods indicates that these modifications are independent of the type of index method. Moreover, sensitivity analysis reveals that the recharge and the land use are both the most significant parameters for evaluating the vulnerability.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number41
    Number of pages15
    JournalEnvironmental Earth Sciences
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    • Geographic information systems (GIS)
    • Nitrate contamination
    • Vulnerability mapping


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