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TVRG The fossil Ram sandstone aquifer of Jordan: hydrogeology, depletion and sustainability

18 July 2018
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Event type:
Evening meeting, Lecture
Organised by:
Thames Valley Regional Group, Engineering Group
Fugro, Fugro House Hithercroft Rd Wallingford
Event status:

A joint evening with the Engineering Group. 


Tea/coffee available from 17:15  

Starts at 18:00 

  • 2nd Talk: The fossil Ram sandstone aquifer of Jordan: hydrogeology, depletion and sustainability 

Starts at 19:00

This talk will be given by Andreas Charalambous on the Ram Sandstone aquifer. The Ram Sandstone is a large transboundary aquifer of Cambro-Ordovician age, shared between Jordan and Saudi Arabia. It is 500 to more than 4,000 m thick and stores fossil groundwater 10,000 to 35,000 years old. Modern recharge is probably insignificant and the aquifer has been in a state of depletion since at least the last humid interludes of 5,000 to 10,000 years ago. Groundwater flows north-northwest from the outcrop areas of southern Jordan and northwest Saudi Arabia to emerge at or below sea level in the Dead Sea. Despite its long residence, the groundwater is generally fresh. Recently concentrations of radium exceeding accepted maximum limits have been identified. 

Exploitation in Jordan has been mainly in the Southern Desert, where groundwater levels and well depths are relatively modest. In the past, irrigation was the predominant use with smaller amounts supplying the coastal city of Aqaba. A scheme to supply the capital Amman with 100 million cubic metres per year (approximately 274 megalitres per day) for fifty years from a wellfield in the Southern Desert, a distance of about 325 kilometres, was completed in 2013.

Being a fossil aquifer, its utilization will reduce the stock available for future generations, but with prudent planning, extractions should be sustainable and depletion may not reach a critical level. However, the Dead Sea thermal springs that have been enjoyed since historical times and the baseflow of deeply incised valleys could be affected.