Hard-rock catchments are considered to be source of valuable water resources for water supply to inhabitants and ecosystems. The present work aims to develop a groundwater vulnerability approach in the Caldas da Cavaca hydromineral system (Aguiar da Beira, Central Portugal) in order to improve the hydrogeological conceptual site model. Different types of information were overlaid, generating several thematic maps to achieve an integrated framework of key sectors in the study site. Thus, a multi-technical approach was used, encompassing field and laboratory techniques, whereby different types of data were collected from fields such as geology, hydrogeology, applied geomorphology and geophysics and hydrogeomechanics, with the fundamental aim of applying the so-called DISCO index method. All of these techniques were successfully performed and an intrinsic groundwater vulnerability to contamination assessment, based on the multicriteria methodology of GOD-S, DRASTIC-Fm, SINTACS, SI and DISCO indexes, was delineated. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) provided the basis on which to organize and integrate the databases and to produce all the thematic maps. This multi-technical approach highlights the importance of groundwater vulnerability to contamination mapping as a tool to support hydrogeological conceptualization, contributing to improving the decision-making process regarding water resources management and sustainability.
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