Quantifying the groundwater total contamination risk using an inclusive multi-level modelling strategy

Maryam Gharekhani, Ata Allah Nadiri*, Rahman Khatibi, Mohammad Reza Nikoo, Rahim Barzegar, Sina Sadeghfam, Asghar Asghari Moghaddam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This paper investigates aggregated risks in aquifers, where risk exposures may originate from different contaminants e.g. nitrate-N (NO3–N), arsenic (As), boron (B), fluoride (F), and aluminium (Al). The main goal is to develop a new concept for the total risk problem under sparse data as an efficient planning tool for management through the following methodology: (i) mapping aquifer vulnerability by DRASTIC and SPECTR frameworks; (ii) mapping risk indices to anthropogenic and geogenic contaminants by unsupervised methods; (iii) improving the anthropogenic and geogenic risks by a multi-level modelling strategy at three levels: Level 1 includes Artificial Neural Networks (ANN) and Support Vector Machines (SVM) models, Level 2 combines the outputs of Level 1 by unsupervised Entropy Model Averaging (EMA), and Level 3 integrates the risk maps of various contaminants (nitrate-N, arsenic, boron, fluoride, and aluminium) modelled at Level 2. The methodology offers new data layers to transform vulnerability indices into risk indices and thereby integrates risks by a heuristic scheme but without any learning as no measured values are available for the integrated risk. The results reveal that the risk indexing methodology is fit-for-purpose. According to the integrated risk map, there are hotspots at the study area and exposed to a number of contaminants (nitrate-N, arsenic, boron, fluoride, and aluminium).

Original languageEnglish
Article number117287
Pages (from-to)117287
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2023


  • Anthropogenci/geogenic
  • Integrated risk index
  • Multi-level modelling
  • Multiple contaminants
  • Vulnerability indexing
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical/analysis
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Aluminum
  • Fluorides
  • Boron
  • Nitrates/analysis
  • Groundwater
  • Arsenic/analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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