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Sci Total Environ. 2006 Mar 15;357(1-3):54-73. Epub 2005 Sep 12.

Karst groundwater protection: First application of a Pan-European Approach to vulnerability, hazard and risk mapping in the Sierra de Líbar (Southern Spain).

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  • 1Group of Hydrogeology, Faculty of Science, University of Málaga, Campus de Teatinos, E-29071 Málaga, Spain.


The European COST action 620 proposed a comprehensive approach to karst groundwater protection, comprising methods of intrinsic and specific vulnerability mapping, validation of vulnerability maps, hazard and risk mapping. This paper presents the first application of all components of this Pan-European Approach to the Sierra de Líbar, a karst hydrogeology system in Andalusia, Spain. The intrinsic vulnerability maps take into account the hydrogeological characteristics of the area but are independent from specific contaminant properties. Two specific vulnerability maps were prepared for faecal coliforms and BTEX. These maps take into account the specific properties of these two groups of contaminants and their interaction with the karst hydrogeological system. The vulnerability assessment was validated by means of tracing tests, hydrological, hydrochemical and isotope methods. The hazard map shows the localization of potential contamination sources resulting from human activities, and evaluates those according to their dangerousness. The risk of groundwater contamination depends on the hazards and the vulnerability of the aquifer system. The risk map for the Sierra de Líbar was thus created by overlaying the hazard and vulnerability maps.

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