Jordan Journal of Civil Engineering

The Use of GIS and Leachability Tests to Investigate Groundwater Vulnerability to Pollution from Oil Shale Utilization at Lajjoun Area/Southern Jordan


Rida Al-Adamat; Adnan Al-Harahsheh; Mohammed Al-Far;


Jordan is a country that faces "absolute water scarcity" and may not be able to meet its water needs by the year 2025. Groundwater is the major water resource for many areas of the country and the only source of water in some areas. Most of the groundwater basins in Jordan are already exploited beyond their estimated safe yield. Groundwater is the second largest contributor to the irrigation sector and is the largest source for domestic consumption. Jordan also has a huge amount of oil shale that exists in the Southern and Eastern parts of the country. It is estimated that Jordan has a reserve of 50 billion tons of oil shale. The oil shale deposits in these locations are shallow and near the surface and can be utilized by the open cut mining method. The ash is considered one of the most important factors in selecting the suitable and more economical utilization technology for Jordanian oil shale. Oil shale ash is considered one of the main environmental challenges and a barrier which stands on the way of developing oil shale industry in Jordan. The main concern in this case is that ash might reach nearby surface water and/ or leach to groundwater recourses in the area. This study aimed to evaluate the risk of pollution of groundwater resources in Lajjoun area/ Southern Jordan as a result of oil shale development. It assessed groundwater vulnerability to pollution using GIS and DRASTIC index in combination with chemical analysis and leachability tests conducted on oil shale ash that might result from two possible utilizations of oil shale; producing electricity through direct burning of oil shale and extracting oil from oil shale. It was found that Lajjoun area has a moderate groundwater vulnerability to pollution. Yet, the leachabilty tests showed that there will be huge amounts of Fe, Cr, Cd, Pb, Al and Pb as possible leachates to groundwater for both types of oil shale utilizations; oil extraction and electricity generation.


Jordan, Groundwater, Oil shale, Vulnerability, GIS, DRASTIC