Hydro-chemical evolution of groundwater in a sequence of Tertiary Formations in Northwest Oman

Osman Abdalla*, Rashid Al-Abri, Khadija Semhi, Talal Al-Hosni, Saif Al-Yaroubi, Ian Clark, Mansour Amerjeed

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Tertiary Formations, which are widely spread in the Arab Peninsula, are fundamental to the oil industry in the world’s largest oil producing area. These formations host major aquifers that satisfy water demands for oil production such as steam injection and reservoir pressure maintenance. The current study investigates the hydro-chemical evolution of groundwater in a sequence of Tertiary Formations in Northwest Oman in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates borders. Stable isotopes (18O and 2H) show three different groundwater types: (1) groundwater formed from precipitation originating from the Mediterranean Sea, (2) groundwater formed from mixing of northern (Mediterranean) and southern (Indian Ocean) moisture sources, and (3) groundwater affected by evaporation. Radiogenic isotopes 14C and 3H indicate younger groundwater close to the recharge source in North Oman Mountains and older age in the plain desert area that constitutes the discharge zone. Groundwater chemistry notably evolves from Ca–Mg–HCO3 dominant in the recharge area to Na–Cl–SO4 dominant type in the discharge zone. Water–rock interaction is the main process controlling groundwater chemistry in the recharge zone while evaporation becomes progressively effective down the gradient. The geochemistry and stable and radiogenic isotopes of the Tertiary Formations indicate that the study area has witnessed wet periods during the Early Holocene with surface water bodies formed by groundwater discharge at distal parts. The sustainability of such old groundwater that is being exploited for oil production should be thoroughly investigated to secure future oil production.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1410
JournalEnvironmental Earth Sciences
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Evaporation
  • Groundwater
  • Isotopes
  • Oman
  • Recharge
  • Tertiary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Pollution
  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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