Special Issue "Focus on the Salinization Issue in the Mediterranean Area"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Hydrology and Hydrogeology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Micòl Mastrocicco
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Environmental, Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technologies, Campania University “Vanvitelli”, 81100 Caserta, Italy
Interests: water resources management and protection in the coastal plains, with a focus on water and nitrogen balance at basin scale and salinization processes; characterization and monitoring of dissolved contaminants in aquifers via different assessment methods; implementation of density-dependent groundwater flow models and reactive transport models
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Throughout the Mediterranean Region, recent studies highlight an increase in temperature, especially during summer, a decrease in precipitation and a certain change in the in-year precipitation pattern. These patterns are contributing to increasing the salinization of water resources. The Mediterranean Region is characterized by a variety of local climates and by a very complex geological and stratigraphical architecture. Moreover, the majority of the population is located along the coasts, with an increasing water demand. Thus, in the next years with the progressive loss of surface water resources, groundwater resources will be gradually more stressed, especially in coastal Mediterranean areas. This makes the Mediterranean area a good benchmark to test and validate scientific approaches to characterizing and better understanding the ongoing salinization trends of water resources.

The aim of this Special Issue of Water is to publish papers that describe the state of the art of surface waters and groundwater salinization in watersheds, with emphasis on the Mediterranean area. In detail, the goal of this Special Issue is to deliver a limited number of papers which describe the key features of aquifer, wetland, lake and river salinization and new challenges that need to be tackled. Particular importance will be given to papers employing novel geochemical and geophysical approaches, numerical modelling and their conjunctive use to monitor, assess and quantify relevant processes in aquifer salinization. This Special Issue aims to cover, without being limited to, the following areas: Multidisciplinary approaches that allow to distinguish between actual saltwater intrusion from paleo-salinization; Interaction between coastal wetlands and groundwater bodies; Numerical transport models that account for solutes’ variable density in saturated/unsaturated media; and the related scenario modelling to quantify future impacts of climate changes on groundwater resources.

Prof. Micòl Mastrocicco
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • water quality
  • climate change
  • vertical profile
  • coastal areas
  • geochemical processes

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Special Issue “Focus on the Salinization Issue in the Mediterranean Area”
Water 2021, 13(5), 681; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13050681 - 03 Mar 2021
Viewed by 440
Abstract
Throughout the Mediterranean Region, recent and past studies have highlighted an increase in temperature, especially during summer, a decrease in precipitation and a change in the in-year precipitation pattern [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Focus on the Salinization Issue in the Mediterranean Area)

Research

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Article
Evolution of Salinity and Water Table Level of the Phreatic Coastal Aquifer of the Emilia Romagna Region (Italy)
Water 2021, 13(3), 372; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13030372 - 31 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 959
Abstract
The coastal aquifers of the Mediterranean region are highly susceptible to seawater intrusion due to a combination of challenges such as land subsidence, high aquifer permeability, urbanization, drainage, and an unsustainable use of water during the dry summer months. The present study is [...] Read more.
The coastal aquifers of the Mediterranean region are highly susceptible to seawater intrusion due to a combination of challenges such as land subsidence, high aquifer permeability, urbanization, drainage, and an unsustainable use of water during the dry summer months. The present study is focused on a statistical analysis of groundwater data to evaluate the spatial changes of water level and electrical conductivity in the coastal phreatic aquifer of the Emilia-Romagna (Northeast Italy) for the period from 2009 to 2018. Data from 35 wells distributed across the entire regional coastal area are used to establish a temporal trend, as well as correlations between salinity, water table level, and rainfall. Water table and salinity distribution maps for the entire study area are discussed regarding surface geology and water management. Most of the wells are in the beach wedge sand unit, which allows for easy connectivity between groundwater and surface water. Surface water and groundwater salinization are enhanced along the surface water bodies connected to the sea. The lowest water table level occurs in the western and northern parts of the study area, because of the semiconfined behavior of the aquifer. Only in the northernmost, close to the Po River, and in the southernmost parts of the study area does the groundwater remain fresh for the whole period considered due to river aquifer recharge. In the rest of the region, the thickness of freshwater lenses, where present, is less than 4.5 m. The existence of a water table level below sea level and high saline water at the bottom of the aquifer in most of the study area suggest that the aquifer is in unstable hydrodynamic conditions and groundwater quality is not fit for human consumption or for irrigation. This study is the first to provide a regional overview of the state of groundwater level and salinization within the coastal aquifer of the Emilia-Romagna Region; it also suggests that, overall, the salinization trend has slightly decreased from 2009 to 2018. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Focus on the Salinization Issue in the Mediterranean Area)
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Article
Coastal Aquifer Salinization in Semi-Arid Regions: The Case of Grombalia (Tunisia)
Water 2021, 13(2), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13020129 - 08 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 539
Abstract
Groundwater resources are facing increasing pressure especially in semi-arid regions where they often represent the main freshwater resource to sustain human needs. Several aquifers in the Mediterranean basin suffer from salinization and quality degradation. This study provides an assessment of Grombalia coastal aquifer [...] Read more.
Groundwater resources are facing increasing pressure especially in semi-arid regions where they often represent the main freshwater resource to sustain human needs. Several aquifers in the Mediterranean basin suffer from salinization and quality degradation. This study provides an assessment of Grombalia coastal aquifer (Tunisia) based on multidisciplinary approach that combines chemical and isotopic (δ2H, δ18O, 3H, 14C and δ13C) methods to characterize the relation between groundwater quality variation and aquifer recharge. The results indicate that total dissolved solids exceed 1000 mg/L in the most of samples excepting the recharge area. In addition to water–rock interaction, evaporation and nitrate pollution contributing to groundwater mineralization, the reverse cation exchange process constitute an important mechanism controlling groundwater mineralization with enhancing risk of saltwater intrusion. Environmental isotope tracers reveal that groundwater is evolving within an open system to close system. A significant component of recent water that is recharging Grombalia aquifer system is confirmed by applying correction models based on the δ13C values and 14C activities and tritium contents. However, this recharge, which is mainly associated to the return flow of irrigation water, contributes to the groundwater salinization, especially for the shallow aquifer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Focus on the Salinization Issue in the Mediterranean Area)
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Article
Natural and Anthropogenic Groundwater Contamination in a Coastal Volcanic-Sedimentary Aquifer: The Case of the Archaeological Site of Cumae (Phlegraean Fields, Southern Italy)
Water 2020, 12(12), 3463; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12123463 - 09 Dec 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 732
Abstract
Archeological sites close to coastal volcanic-sedimentary aquifers are threatened by groundwater contaminated by natural and anthropogenic processes. The paper reports on a hydrogeological, chemical (major, minor and trace elements) and isotopic (δD-H2O, δ18O-H2O, δ15N-NO3 [...] Read more.
Archeological sites close to coastal volcanic-sedimentary aquifers are threatened by groundwater contaminated by natural and anthropogenic processes. The paper reports on a hydrogeological, chemical (major, minor and trace elements) and isotopic (δD-H2O, δ18O-H2O, δ15N-NO3, δ18O-NO3, δ11B, 222Rn) survey of groundwater at the Cumae archaeological site, which is located in the coastal north-western sector of the volcanic district of Phlegraean Fields (southern Italy), where groundwater flooding phenomena occur. Results show the presence of a complex coastal volcanic-sedimentary aquifer system where groundwater quality is influenced mainly by: (i) aquifer lithology and localized ascent of magmatic fluids along buried volcano-tectonic discontinuities, (ii) mixing of groundwater, deep mineralized fluids and seawater during groundwater pumping, and (iii) nitrate contamination >50 mg/L from non-point agricultural sources. Moreover, δD and δ18O point toward fast recharge from seasonal precipitations, while the isotopic ratios of N and O in nitrate reveal the contribution of mineral and organic fertilizers as well as leakage from septic tanks. Results can assist the local archaeological authority for the safeguarding and management of the archaeological heritage of the Cumae site. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Focus on the Salinization Issue in the Mediterranean Area)
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Article
Sources of Salinization of Groundwater in the Lower Yarmouk Gorge, East of the River Jordan
Water 2020, 12(5), 1291; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12051291 - 01 May 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 993
Abstract
In the Lower Yarmouk Gorge the chemical composition of regional, fresh to brackish, mostly thermal groundwater reveals a zonation in respect to salinization and geochemical evolution, which is seemingly controlled by the Lower Yarmouk fault (LYF) but does not strictly follow the morphological [...] Read more.
In the Lower Yarmouk Gorge the chemical composition of regional, fresh to brackish, mostly thermal groundwater reveals a zonation in respect to salinization and geochemical evolution, which is seemingly controlled by the Lower Yarmouk fault (LYF) but does not strictly follow the morphological Yarmouk Gorge. South of LYF, the artesian Mukeihbeh well field region produces in its central segment groundwaters, an almost pure basaltic-rock type with a low contribution (<0.3 vol-%) of Tertiary brine, hosted in deep Cretaceous and Jurassic formations. Further distal, the contribution of limestone water increases, originating from the Ajloun Mountains in the South. North of the LYF, the Mezar wells, the springs of Hammat Gader and Ain Himma produce dominantly limestone water, which contains 0.14–3 vol-% of the Tertiary brine, and hence possesses variable salinity. The total dissolved equivalents, TDE, of solutes gained by water/rock interaction (WRI) and mixing with brine, TDEWRI+brine, amount to 10–70% of total salinity in the region comprising the Mukheibeh field, Ain Himma and Mezar 3 well; 55–70% in the springs of Hammat Gader; and 80–90% in wells Mezar 1 and 2. The type of salinization indicates that the Lower Yarmouk fault seemingly acts as the divide between the Ajloun and the Golan Heights-dominated groundwaters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Focus on the Salinization Issue in the Mediterranean Area)
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Article
Quantitative Estimation of Soil Salinization in an Arid Region of the Keriya Oasis Based on Multidimensional Modeling
Water 2020, 12(3), 880; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12030880 - 20 Mar 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 938
Abstract
Soil salinity is one of the major factors causing land degradation and desertification on earth, especially its important damage to farming activities and land-use management in arid and semiarid regions. The salt-affected land is predominant in the Keriya River area of Northwestern China. [...] Read more.
Soil salinity is one of the major factors causing land degradation and desertification on earth, especially its important damage to farming activities and land-use management in arid and semiarid regions. The salt-affected land is predominant in the Keriya River area of Northwestern China. Then, there is an urgent need for rapid, accurate, and economical monitoring in the salt-affected land. In this study, we used the electrical conductivity (EC) of 353 ground-truth measurements and predictive capability parameters of WorldView-2 (WV-2), such as satellite band reflectance and newly optimum spectral indices (OSI) based on two dimensional and three-dimensional data. The features of spectral bands were extracted and tested, and different new OSI and soil salinity indices using reflectance of wavebands were built, in which spectral data was pre-processed (based on First Derivative (R-FD), Second Derivative (R-SD), Square data (R-SQ), Reciprocal inverse (1/R), and Reciprocal First Derivative (1/R-FD)), utilizing the partial least-squares regression (PLSR) method to construct estimation models and mapping the regional soil-affected land. The results of this study are the following: (a) the new OSI had a higher relevance to EC than one-dimensional data, and (b) the cross-validation of established PLSR models indicated that the β-PLSR model based on the optimal three-band index with different process algorithm performed the best result with R2V = 0.79, Root Mean Square Errors (RMSEV) = 1.51 dS·m−1, and Relative Percent Deviation (RPD) = 2.01 and was used to map the soil salinity over the study site. The results of the study will be helpful for the study of salt-affected land monitoring and evaluation in similar environmental conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Focus on the Salinization Issue in the Mediterranean Area)
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Review

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Review
The Issue of Groundwater Salinization in Coastal Areas of the Mediterranean Region: A Review
Water 2021, 13(1), 90; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13010090 - 04 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 882
Abstract
The Mediterranean area is undergoing intensive demographic, social, cultural, economic, and environmental changes. This generates multiple environmental pressures such as increased demand for water resources, generation of pollution related to wastewater discharge, and land consumption. In the Mediterranean area, recent climate change studies [...] Read more.
The Mediterranean area is undergoing intensive demographic, social, cultural, economic, and environmental changes. This generates multiple environmental pressures such as increased demand for water resources, generation of pollution related to wastewater discharge, and land consumption. In the Mediterranean area, recent climate change studies forecast large impacts on the hydrologic cycle. Thus, in the next years, surface and ground-water resources will be gradually more stressed, especially in coastal areas. In this review paper, the historical and geographical distribution of peer-review studies and the main mechanisms that promote aquifer salinization in the Mediterranean area are critically discussed, providing the state of the art on topics such as actual saltwater wedge characterization, paleo-salinities in coastal areas, water-rock interactions, geophysical techniques aimed at delineating the areal and vertical extent of saltwater intrusion, management of groundwater overexploitation using numerical models and GIS mapping techniques for aquifer vulnerability to salinization. Each of the above-mentioned approaches has potential advantages and drawbacks; thus, the best tactic to tackle coastal aquifer management is to employ a combination of approaches. Finally, the number of studies focusing on predictions of climate change effects on coastal aquifers are growing but are still very limited and surely need further research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Focus on the Salinization Issue in the Mediterranean Area)
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