Assessment of groundwater contamination by NO3− using geographical information system in the Zhangye Basin, Northwest China

Fang, Jing; Ding, Yong-jian
April 2010
Environmental Earth Sciences;Apr2010, Vol. 60 Issue 4, p809
Academic Journal
Geographical information system (GIS) technology was used to investigate NO3− concentration of groundwater in the Zhangye Basin, Northwest China. Thematic information and NO3− data of groundwater from the Zhangye Basin were analyzed in a GIS environment to study the extent and variation of NO3− concentration and to establish spatial relationships with corresponding land use types. About 38.8% of groundwater samples showed NO3− concentration above the human affected value (13 mg/l NO3−), while more than 10.2% exceeded the maximum acceptable level (50 mg/l NO3−) according to WHO regulations. The spatial distribution of NO3− of groundwater in the Zhangye Basin showed an obvious character of zonation; the high NO3− concentration was mainly located in the city seat areas, and Zhangye City was the high-value center. The probability of over 90% for NO3− concentration exceeding 13 mg/l was found in urban seat areas. The spatial analyses indicated that groundwater contamination by NO3− was closely related to one specific land use class, the urban. The NO3− concentration of groundwater under urban was significantly higher than that under irrigation land or sand dune. Most of the unacceptable NO3− levels were found in groundwater samples assigned to urban area, but a few were also found allotted to irrigation land class. Therefore, urban source was considered the principal source of NO3− contamination of groundwater in the Zhangye Basin, while irrigation land source was still a possible source of NO3− contamination.


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