The influence of lithology and climatic conditions on the groundwater quality in the semi-arid-regions: case study of the Eastern Middle Cheliff alluvial aquifer (northwestern Algeria)

Submitted: 15 April 2023
Accepted: 26 October 2023
Published: 4 December 2023
Abstract Views: 283
PDF: 304
Publisher's note
All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article or claim that may be made by its manufacturer is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.


  • Elaid Madene GEE Research Laboratory, Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Hydraulique de Blida, Blida, Algeria.
  • Abdelmadjid Boufekane Geo-Environment Laboratory, Department of Geology, Faculty of Earth Sciences and Country Planning, University of Sciences and Technology Houari Boumediene (USTHB), Bab Ezzouar, Algiers, Algeria.
  • Bilal Derardja Centre International de Hautes Etudes Agronomiques Méditerranéennes (CIHEAM)- Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari, Valenzano, Italy.
  • Gianluigi Busico DiSTABiF-Department of Environmental, Biological and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technologies, Campania 7 University “Luigi Vanvitelli”, Caserta, Italy.
  • Mohamed Meddi GEE Research Laboratory, Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Hydraulique de Blida, Blida, Algeria.

Over the last few years, the Eastern Middle Cheliff plain has witnessed remarkable economic growth, particularly in the agricultural sector. However, the overexploitation of the alluvial aquifer, coupled with agricultural practices involving the use of fertilizers and pesticides, significantly contributed to the degradation of groundwater quality. The primary objective of this study is to comprehend the mechanisms governing the water chemistry of the Eastern Middle Cheliff alluvial aquifer. A total of 42 samples were collected and analyzed during the dry periods of the 2012 and 2017. The data processing and representation involved the utilization of analytical tools including Principal Component Analysis (PCA), Piper diagram, Stabler classification, binary diagrams, base exchange indices, saturation indices, and geostatistical methods. The interpretation of these data revealed the following findings: i) the groundwater in both the dry periods of 2012 and 2017 is characterized by the presence of two dominant hydro-chemical facies, namely calcium chloride and sodium chloride, as indicated by the Piper and Stabler diagrams; ii) the hydrochemical quality of the groundwater varies across different regions of the aquifer, fair to poor in the eastern and central regions, with the presence of certain contaminants resulting from the application of nitrates in agricultural activities. The quality is classified as very poor in the western region, primarily due to high salinity influenced by the lithology of the aquifer, the rise of deep salty water through the Cheliff fault due to the earthquake of the year 1980 and possibility by two climatic factors, namely evaporation and rainfall. Overall, this study provides new insights into the water chemistry dynamics of the Eastern Middle Cheliff alluvial aquifer, highlighting the varying hydrochemical facies and the impact of agricultural activities and climatic factors on groundwater quality in different areas of the aquifer.

Alilouch, R., El Morabiti, K., El Mrihi, A., & Ouchar Al-Djazouli, M. (2020). Application of statistical methods to the hydrogeochemical study of groundwater in the Beni Hassan Dorsal (Northern Rif, Morocco). International Journal of Innovation and Applied Studies, 30(2), 546–562.

Al-Mashreki, M.H., Eid, M.H., Saeed, O., Székács, A., Szűcs, P., Gad, M., Abukhadra, M.R., AlHammadi, A.A., Alrakhami, M.S., Alshabibi, M.A., Elsayed, S., Khadr, M., Farouk, M., & Ramadan, H.S. (2023). Integration of Geochemical Modeling, Multivariate Analysis, and Irrigation Indices for Assessing Groundwater Quality in the Al-Jawf Basin, Yemen. Water, 15, 1496. DOI:

Ait Lemkademe, A., El Ghorfi, M., Zouhri, L., Heddoun, O., Khalil,A., & Maacha, L. (2023). Origin and Salinization Processes of Groundwater in the Semi-Arid Area of Zagora Graben, Southeast Morocco. Water, 15, 2172. DOI:

Bekhouche, N., Khiel, S., Ouldjaoui, A., Ababsa, L., & Marniche, F. (2022). Qualité Physico-chimique des eaux de l’oued Sigus (Nord-Est de l’Algérie) : Caractérisation et analyse en composantes principales. “Physico-chemical water quality of Sigus wadi (North-East of Algeria): Characterization and Principalcomponent analysis”. BioRessources, 12, 2–11.

Boufekane, A., Maizi, D., Madene, E., Busico, G., & Zghibi, A. (2022). Hybridization of GALDIT method to assess actual and future coastal vulnerability to seawater intrusion. Journal of Environmental Management, 318, 115580. DOI:

Boulaine, J. (1957). Study of the soils of the Cheliff plains. PhD Thesis, University of Algiers, Algeria. 582p.

Bouzelboudjen, M. (1987). Hydrogeology and balance of the El Amra- El Abadia aquifer by mathematical models (Middle Cheliff basin, Algeria), PhD Thesis, University of Franche-Comté, France. 197p.

Busico, G., Kazakis, N., Cuoco, E., Colombani, N., Tedesco, D., Voudouris, K., & Mastrocicco, M. (2020). A novel hybrid method of specific vulnerability to anthropogenic pollution using multivariate statistical and regression analyses. Water Research, 171, 115386. DOI:

Busico, G., Mastrocicco, M., Cuoco, E., Sirna, M., & Tedesco, D. (2019). Protection from natural and anthropogenic sources: A new rating methodology to delineate “Nitrate vulnerable zones”. Environmental Earth Sciences, 78(4) doi:10.1007/s12665-019-8118-2 DOI:

Djabri, L. (1996). Water pollution of the Seybouse valley - Guelma - Bouchegouf - Annaba regions, its geological, industrial, agricultural and urban origins. PhD Thesis, University of Annaba, Algeria. 247p.

El Jihad, M.D., & Taabni, M. (2019). L’eau au Maghreb : Quel mixl’hydrique face aux effets du changement climatique ? Eau et climat en Afrique du Nord et au Moyen Orient. “Water in the Maghreb: What “mix” facing the effects of climate change ? Water and climate in North Africa and the Middle East”. Editions Transversal: 1-25p.

Erostate, M., Huneau, F., Garel, E., Vystavna, Y., Santoni, S., & Pasqualini, V. (2019). Coupling isotope hydrology, geochemical tracers and emerging compounds to evaluate mixing processes and groundwater dependence of a highly anthropized coastal DOI:

hydrosystem. Journal of Hydrology, 578, 123979.

FAO. (2016).

Ghebouli, MS., & Bencheikh Elhocine, M. (2008). Origin of groundwater salinity. The case of Setif high plains (Eastern Algeria). Sciences & Technologie, 8, 37–46.

Gouaidia, L. (2008). Influence of the lithology and climatic conditions on the variation of the physico-chemical parameters of the aquifers in semi-arid zone, case of the Meskiana aquifer (North-East Algeria). PhD Thesis, University of Annaba, Algeria. 199p.

IFES. (2002). Design Office, Milianaa. Report of geophysical study by electrical prospection of the middle Cheliff (El Attaf), Algeria.

Jawadi, I., & Gaaloul, N. (2020). Qualitative and quantitative study of water resources in the Sidi Bouzid plain (central Tunisia). Journal International Sciences et Technique de l’Eau et de l’Environnement, l5(2), 109–114.

Johnbosco, C., Egbueri, J.C., Agbasi, D.A., Ayejoto, M.I.K., & Khan, M.Y.A. (2023). Extent of anthropogenic influence on groundwater quality and human health-related risks: an integrated assessment based on selected physicochemical characteristics. Geocarto International, 38, 1. DOI:

Kanellopoulos, C., & Argyraki, A. (2022). Multivariate statistical assessment of groundwater in cases with ultramafic rocks and anthropogenic activities influence. Applied Geochemistry, 141, 105292. DOI:

Khan, M.Y.A., ElKashouty, M., & Bob, M. (2020). Impact of rapid urbanization and tourism on the groundwater quality in Al Madinah city, Saudi Arabia: a monitoring and modeling approach. Arabian Journal of Geosciences, 13, 922. DOI:

Khan, M.Y.A., El Kashouty, M., Gusti, W., Kumar, A., Subyani, A.M., & Alshehri, A. ( 2022). Geo-Temporal Signatures of Physicochemical and Heavy Metals Pollution in Groundwater of Khulais Region - Makkah Province, Saudi Arabia. Frontiers in Environmental Science, 9, 800517. DOI:

Khan, M.Y.A., ElKashouty, M., Subyani, A.M., & Tian F. (2023). Spatio-temporal evaluation of trace element contamination using multivariate statistical techniques and health risk assessment in groundwater, Khulais, Saudi Arabia. Applied Water Science. 13, 123. DOI:

Kireche, O. (1977). Geological and structural study of the massifs with schistosity of Cheliff. PhD Thesis, University of USTHB/Algiers, Algeria. 199p.

Lentini, A., Meddi, E., Galve, J.P., Papiccio, C., & La Vigna, F. (2022). Preliminary identification of areas suitable for Sustainable Drainage Systems and Managed Aquifer Recharge to mitigate storm water flooding phenomena in Rome (Italy). Acque Sotterranee - Italian Journal of Groundwater, 11(4), 43–53. DOI:

Madene, E., Meddi, H., Boufekane, A., & Meddi, M. (2020). Contribution of hydrogeochemical and isotopic tools to the management of Upper and Middle Cheliff Aquifers. Journal of Earth Science, 31(5), 993–1006. DOI:


Madene, E., Boufekane, A., Meddi, M., Busico, G., & Zghib, A. (2022). Spatial analysis and mapping of the groundwater quality index for drinking and irrigation purpose in the alluvial aquifers of upper and middle Cheliff basin (north-west Algeria). Water Supply, 22(4), 4422– 4444. DOI:

Mastrocicco, M., Gervasio, M.P., Busico, G., & Colombani, N. (2021). Natural and Mastrocicco, M., Gervasio, M. P., Busico, G., & Colombani, N. (2021). Natural and the Campania plains (southern Italy). Science of the Total Environment, 758, 144033. https://doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.144033 DOI:

Mattauer, M. (1958). Geological study of the eastern Ouarsenis (Algeria). Pub. Serv. Map Algeria. PhD Thesis. University of Paris, France. 343p.

Meghraoui, M. (1982). Neotectonic study of the northwestern region of El Asnam. Relation with the earthquake of October 10, 1980. PhD Thesis, University of Paris VII, France. 182p.

Mehdaoui, R., Mili, E.M., & Mahboub, A. (2019). Using physicochemical and bacteriological parameters to characterize the quality of groundwater in the Ziz Valley (Errachidia province South-East of Morocco). La Houille Blanche, 5-6, 515.

Messelmi, H. (2012). Evolution physico-chimique des eaux souterraines des différentes aquifères du Moyen Cheliff. “Physico chemical evolution of groundwater in the different aquifers of Middle Cheliff”. Mémoire de Master, Université Khemis Miliana, Algérie. 154p.

Messelmi, H. (2012). Evolution physico-chimique des eaux souterraines des différentes aquifères du Moyen Cheliff. Mémoire de Master, Université Khemis Miliana, Algérie. 154p.

Parkhurst, DL., Appelo, CAJ. (1999). User's guide to PHREEQC (Version 2)-A Computer program for speciation, batch-reaction, one-dimensional transport, and inverse geochemical calculations. United States Geological Survey, Water Resources Investigations. Report 99-4259, Washington, USA. 326p.

Orecchia, C., Giambastiani, B.M.S., Greggio, N., Campo, B., Dinelli, E. (2022). Geochemical Characterization of Groundwater in the Confined and Unconfined Aquifers of the Northern Italy. Applied Sciences, 12, 7944. DOI:

Perrodon, A. (1957). Geological study of the subliteral Neogene basins of northwestern Algeria. PhD Thesis. University of Paris, France.

Piper A, (1944): A graphic procedure in the geochemical interpretation of water analyses. Transactions American Geophysical Union, 25, 914–923. DOI:

Prabakaran, K., Sivakumar, K., Aruna, C. (2020). Use of GIS-AHP tools for potable groundwater potential zone investigations - a case study in Vairavanpatti rural area, Tamil Nadu, India. Arabian Journal of Geosciences, 13(17), 866. DOI:

Remaoun, M. (2007). Floods and droughts in Algeria, case of the Middle Cheliff. PhD Thesis, University of USTHB/Algiers, Algeria. 231p.

Rezig, A., Saggai, S., Baloul, D., Dahmani, S., Bouamria, M., Djafer Khodja, H. (2021). Groundwater pollution risk in the region of Bouira (North-Center of Algeria). Journal of Fundamental and Applied Sciences, 13(1), 58–74. DOI:

Richa, A. (2010). Approche de l’origine de la salinite des eaux de la nappe alluviale d’Al Attaf. Mémoire de Magister, Université Khemis Miliana, Algérie. 163p.

Rodier, J. (1996). Water analysis, natural water, waste water, sea water. Edition Dunod, Paris, France. 1383p.

Rodier, J., Legube, B., Merlet, M., Brunet, R., (2009). Water analysis. Edition Dunod, Paris, France. 1600p.

Simler, R, (2009). Diagrammes software. Downloadable at http://www.lha.univavignon. fr/LHA-Logiciels.htm.

Stafford, J., Bodson, P. (2006). Multi-varied analysis SPSS. Presses the University of Quebec, Canada. 241p.

Touhari, F., Meddi, M., Mehaiguene, M., Razack M. (2015). Hydrogeochemical assessment of the Upper Cheliff groundwater (North West Algeria). Environmental Earth Sciences, 73, 3043–3061. DOI:

Taherian, P., Joodavi, A.. (2021). Hydrogeochemical characteristics and source identification of salinity in groundwater resources in an arid plain, northeast of Iran: implication for drinking and irrigation purposes. AcqueSotterranee - Italian Journal of Groundwater, 10(2), 21–31. DOI:

Vespasiano, G., Muto, F., Apollaro, C. (2021). Geochemical, Geological and Groundwater Quality Characterization of a Complex Geological Framework: The Case Study of the Coreca Area (Calabria, South Italy). Geosciences, 11, 121. DOI:

Madene, E., Boufekane, A., Derardja, B., Busico, G., & Meddi, M. (2023). The influence of lithology and climatic conditions on the groundwater quality in the semi-arid-regions: case study of the Eastern Middle Cheliff alluvial aquifer (northwestern Algeria). Acque Sotterranee - Italian Journal of Groundwater, 12(4), 19–36.


Download data is not yet available.