Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2021-37
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2021-37

  01 Feb 2021

01 Feb 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Dynamics of hydrological and geomorphological processes in evaporite karst at the eastern Dead Sea – a multidisciplinary study

Djamil Al-Halbouni1, Robert A. Watson2, Eoghan P. Holohan2, Rena Meyer3, Ulrich Polom4, Fernando M. Dos Santos5, Xavier Comas6, Hussam Alrshdan7,8, Charlotte M. Krawczyk1,9, and Torsten Dahm1,10 Djamil Al-Halbouni et al.
  • 1Physics of Earthquakes and Volcanoes, Helmholtz Centre - German Research Centre for Geosciences, Telegrafenberg, Potsdam 14473, Germany
  • 2Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences (iCRAG), UCD School of Earth Sciences, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
  • 3Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Øster Voldgade 10, Copenhagen 1350, Denmark
  • 4Department S1 - Seismics, Gravimetry, and Magnetics, Leibniz Institute for Applied Geophysics, Stilleweg 2, Hannover 30655, Germany
  • 5Instituto Dom Luís, University of Lisbon, Campo Grande Edifício C1, Lisbon 1749-016, Portugal
  • 6Department of Geosciences, Florida Atlantic University, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton, FL 33431, USA
  • 7MDA/IDC, Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, Vienna International Centre, Vienna, Austria
  • 8Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, Mahmoud Al Moussa Abaidat Street, Amman 140027, Jordan
  • 9Institute for Applied Geosciences, TU Berlin, Ernst-Reuter-Platz 1, Berlin 10587, Germany
  • 10Institute of Earth and Environmental Science-Earth Sciences, University of Potsdam, Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24-25, Potsdam 14476, Germany

Abstract. Karst groundwater systems are characterised by the presence of multiple porosity types. Of these, subsurface conduits that facilitate concentrated, heterogeneous flow are challenging to resolve geologically and geophysically. This is especially the case in evaporite karst systems, such as those present on the shores of the Dead Sea, where rapid geomorphological changes are linked to a fall in base level by over 35 m since 1967. Here we combine field observations, remote sensing analysis, and multiple geophysical surveying methods (shear wave reflection seismics, electrical resistivity tomography [ERT], self-potential [SP] and ground penetrating radar [GPR]) to investigate the nature of subsurface groundwater flow and its interaction with hypersaline Dead Sea water on the rapidly retreating eastern shoreline, near Ghor Al-Haditha in Jordan. Remote-sensing data highlight links between the evolution of surface stream channels fed by groundwater springs and the development of surface subsidence patterns over a 25-year period. ERT and SP data from the head of one groundwater-fed channel adjacent the former lakeshore show anomalies that point to concentrated, multidirectional water flow in conduits located in the shallow subsurface (< 25 m depth). ERT surveys further inland show anomalies that are coincident with the axis of a major depression and that we interpret to represent subsurface water flow. Low-frequency GPR surveys reveal the limit between unsaturated and saturated zones (< 30 m depth) surrounding the main depression area. Shear wave seismic reflection data nearly 1 km further inland reveal buried paleochannels within alluvial fan deposits, which we interpret as pathways for groundwater flow from the main wadi in the area towards the springs feeding the surface streams. Finally, simulations of density-driven flow of hypersaline and under-saturated groundwaters in response to base level fall perform realistically if they include the generation of karst conduits near the shoreline. The combined approaches lead to a refined conceptual model of the hydrological and geomorphological processes developed at this part of the Dead Sea, whereby matrix-flow through the superficial aquifer inland transitions to conduit-flow nearer the shore where evaporite deposits are encountered. These conduits play a key role in the development of springs, stream channels and subsidence across the study area.

Djamil Al-Halbouni et al.

Status: open (until 29 Mar 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2021-37', Anselme Muzirafuti, 23 Feb 2021 reply
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Djamil Al-Halbouni, 24 Feb 2021 reply

Djamil Al-Halbouni et al.

Djamil Al-Halbouni et al.

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Short summary
The rapid decline of the Dead Sea by over a meter per year leads to dynamic changes of the water system, with physical and chemical processes rapidly creating voids and conduits into the geologic underground. This work uses a combination of remote sensing, geophysical methods and numerical modeling to link groundwater flow patterns and stream-channel formation at the eastern shore to occurence of sinkholes & subsidence. Better understanding of this system will improve regional hazard assessment.