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Technische Universität Darmstadt (2017)

Experimental and numerical studies on the water balance of the Upper Mega Aquifer system, Arabian Peninsula

Schulz, Stephan

Titre : Experimental and numerical studies on the water balance of the Upper Mega Aquifer system, Arabian Peninsula.

Auteur : Schulz, Stephan

Université de soutenance : Technische Universität Darmstadt

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2017

Résumé
Besides a few perennial rivers, like the Euphrates, surface water resources are scarce and often not reliable in its temporal availability on the Arabian Peninsula. Consequently, the region relies on its mainly fossil groundwater reserves, which are predominantly stored in the sedimentary formations of the Arabian Platform. One of its major groundwater reservoirs is the Upper Mega Aquifer (UMA) system. The present thesis comprises three major studies on this aquifer system. The first one deals with a specific type of groundwater recharge : the accumulation of surface water and its discharge into karst features like open shafts and sinkholes. In order to quantify the amount of recharge, a combined approach of time-lapse camera monitoring and water balance modelling was applied. Finally, an average groundwater recharge rate of about 5 mm a-1 could be estimated for the As Sulb plateau, which constitutes an outcrop area of the Umm Er Radhuma karst aquifer. Moreover, this study discusses the non-linearity of recharge processes in arid environments. The second study deals with the groundwater evaporation from salt pans. During this study, different methods are used to provide a comprehensive picture of this process. These methods include satellite image analysis for the mapping of salt pan areas, isotopic investigations in order to distinguish between groundwater and seawater dominated salt pans, and a column experiment for the quantification of evaporation rates. A combination of these methods suggests a total annual groundwater loss of 1.3 km3 for the UMA system caused by the evaporation from salt pans. The third study encompasses the set-up and the calibration of a numerical groundwater flow model. In the course of this study, the phenomenon of fossil groundwater gradients is discussed and a novel calibration scheme is introduced. The final part of this thesis applies the model and three different development scenarios for groundwater abstraction are simulated and discussed

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