American University of Beirut


​​​​​From Monitoring to Modelling

Estimation of real evapotranspiration and recharge on two karst pilot groundwater catchments (Lebanon) and identify factors affecting them using an integrated spatially distributed numerical model: Applications for water management purposes.

PI: Joanna Doummar, American University of Beirut
U.S. Partner: Jason G. Gurdak, San Francisco State University

Project Abstract

Karst aquifers are highly heterogeneous and characterized by a duality of recharge (concentrated; fast versus diffuse; slow) and a duality of flow which directly influences groundwater flow and spring responses. Given this heterogeneity inflow and infiltration, karst aquifers do not always obey standard hydraulic laws. Therefore the assessment of their vulnerability reveals to be challenging. Studies have shown that vulnerability of aquifers is highly governed by recharge to groundwater. On the other hand, specific parameters appear to play a major role in the spatial and temporal distribution of infiltration on a karst system, thus greatly influencing the discharge rates observed at a karst spring, and consequently the vulnerability of a spring. This heterogeneity can only be depicted using an integrated numerical model to quantify recharge spatially and assess the spatial and temporal vulnerability of a catchment for contamination. In the framework of a three-year PEER NSF/USAID funded project, the vulnerability of a karst catchment in Lebanon is assessed quantitatively using a numerical approach. The aim of the project is also to refine actual evapotranspiration rates and spatial recharge distribution in a semi-arid environment. For this purpose, a monitoring network was installed since July 2014 on two different pilot karst catchment (drained by Qachqouch Spring and Assal Spring) to collect high-resolution data to be used in an integrated catchment numerical model with MIKE SHE, DHI including climate, unsaturated zone, and saturated zone. Catchment characterization essential for the model included geological mapping and karst features (e.g., dolines) survey as they contribute to fast flow. Tracer experiments were performed under different flow conditions (snowmelt and low flow) to delineate the catchment area, reveal groundwater velocities and response to snowmelt events. An assessment of spring response after precipitation events allowed the estimation of the fast infiltration component. A series of laboratory tests were performed to acquire physical values to be used as a benchmark for model parameterization, such as laboratory tests on soils for conductivity at saturation and grain size analysis. Time series used for input or calibration were collected and computed from continuous high-resolution monitoring of climatic data, moisture variation in the soil, and discharge at the investigated spring. This similar model approach used on a catchment site in Germany is to be applied and validated on two pilot karst catchments in Lebanon governed by semi-arid climatic conditions.

Executive Summary

In addition to the set up of  high resolution monitoring stations for flow rates and climate measurements that serve as platform for future data collection to be incorporated in the model for further validation purposes and shared with stakeholders (Water establishments).  
The project aimed at completing the following activities: 

1) The simulation of flow in two karst catchment areas in Mount Lebanon based on high resolution data acquisition and subsurface characterization. The use of such a model allowed estimating water losses such as evapotranspiration and recharging rates. The model helped identify also parameters to which model results were highly sensitive to account for in numerical simulations.  

2) Two main applications have been undertaken using the calibrated and validated model: 
a- Climate change application: 
Evaluation of flow rates under varying climatic conditions from 2020-2100 based on downscaled future climatic time series (from Global Climatic Models). 
b- Vulnerability studies and ground water protection
Qualitative vulnerability assessment methods (COP, EPIK, PI, DRASTIC, GOD) applied in karst aquifers weigh the susceptibility of groundwater based on key factors in hydrological karst compartments (Atmosphere, Unsaturated zone, and Saturated zone). These key parameters are usually attributed different weights according to their estimated impact on groundwater vulnerability. this work refined based on a quantitative model with extensive sensitivity analysis the weight of key- vulnerability parameters such as soil thickness and type, slope, precipitation, or other parameters used in qualitative vulnerability methods in karst systems.
3) Investigation of the suitability of selected micropollutants as waste water indicators in a karst spring based on comprehensive water sampling campaigns by characterizing their transport under transient conditions and varying flow conditions.  The latter serves as preliminary work to correlate waste water indicators that are costly to measure with easily measurable parameters at the spring such as electrical conductivity.  

Some selected highlights that contributed to additional knowledge in hydrogeology as a science specifically and in the region can be summarized as follows:

1) Quantification of the impact of climate change on snow-governed water resources in semi-arid regions, more specifically on expected flow rates and snow melt potential, recession periods and total water volume compared to  growing amount needed for supply. 

-Model output and results are highly sensitive to temperature (T), especially snow cover, flow minimum and  maximum, as well as the duration of recession period, with T having little effect on total flow volumes. 
-Drastically decreasing discharge is expected as of 2070 based on future simulations (2020–2099).
-The recession duration is expected to increase at a rate of 0.55 day/year due to a more prominent flushing of  precipitation event waters into fast preferential pathways, thus increasing discharge magnitude at the spring.
-This study quantifies the effect of a changing climate for the region on spring output such as 1) annual recharge rates, 2) recession coefficient and duration, 3) max and min flowrate, 4) snow cover, and 5) deficit volume below demand rate during shortage periods, which constitute key parameters in groundwater management and decision making.

2) Based on a high resolution monitoring of the Qachqouch spring (Metn Lebanon) since 2014, flow was successfully simulated in this karst system using a semi distributed linear reservoir lumped model (Mike she, 2016). The model was calibrated and validated using a robust statistical analysis of spring discharge, precipitation, and electrical conductivity.  
> Multiple artificial tracer experiments showed that the spring is connected to  the highly polluted Nahr El Kalb River through a point source sinking stream.
>The spectral correlative analysis shows that the Qachqouch karstic system is divided into two parts, corresponding to a transmissive and a capacitive function. 
>The system transforms the rainfall into long time cycles (annual or more) like most of the Lebanese systems and has an important storage. At the same time, it is also very reactive to the rain event. 
>Based on these results, the catchment of the Qachqouch spring was delineated, with an approximate surface of 56.3 km2. Its boundaries and surface area  were validated with a linear reservoir model (MIKE SHE) calibrated only for the flow in the saturated zone. 
>The results fit well, validating the proposed catchment with satisfactory Nash Sutcliffe coefficient (>0.7) and are in line with the field observations and the local geological context (crushed zones, dolomitisation, opened fractures).  

3) Occurrence of selected domestic and hospital emerging micropollutants on a rural surface water basin linked to a groundwater karst catchment gave an insight into the transport and origin or certain contaminants in comparison to amounts of waste water effluents. 
> The study provides an insight into ground water contamination from sinking surface water
>The occurrence of micropollutants Acesulfame-K, Ibuprofen, Gemfibrozil, Nonylphenol, and Iohexol on a rural surface water basin was quantified. 
>The concentration of these selcted Mps are highly reflective of waste water effluent in ephemeral streams and tributaries from specific point sources pollution
>Ibuprofen and Acesulfame-K are correlated together indicating their suitability as co-tracers
>The number of consumers of selected pharmaceuticals was calculated based on estimated mas fluxes on sub-catchments

4) Assessment of the origin and transport of four selected emerging micropollutants sucralose, Acesulfame-K, gemfibrozil, and iohexol in a karst spring during a multi-event spring response
>Detailed karst spring responses to precipitation events were used to track the origin and to estimate the mass loads of consumed artificial sweeteners and other micropollutants.
>Acesulfame-K, Sucralose, and Gemfibrozil can be used as indicators for waste water infiltrated from varying origin on a karst catchment. 
>Iohexol is more indicative of hospital waste of limited release, while Sucralose is not detected in surface water despite its high loads in spring water.
>Mass fluxes of the artificial sweeteners are correlated with easily monitored parameters such as chloride mass fluxes and turbidity breakthrough at the spring.

5) Tailoring a conceptual quantitative vulnerability approach based on recharge distribution that takes the most influential parameters into account (on going till December 2018).
Quantification of the importance of key vulnerability parameters and outlining potential parameters that are not accounted for in standard methods, but that might play a role in the vulnerability of a system. The assessment of the sensitivity of the model to the chosen key parameters from the conventional vulnerability assessment methods was done on different geomorphological and geological settings. The tested parameters were mainly the controlling factors of groundwater flow dynamics. Spring discharge is perceived as the resultant output of the model that is influenced by the atmospheric compartment (precipitation, temperature, and ETP, and landuse) the unsaturated zone (upper soil cover and epikarst hydraulic properties), and saturated zone parameters (aquifer and highly conductive zone parameters). The  analysis shows that factors (such as fast infiltration, soil properties, slope, hydraulic conductivity) influence the discharge and recharge to groundwater and indirectly its vulnerability where this may lead to the refinement of weights attributed to key vulnerability factors based on a quantitative approach. Statistical analysis of output time series while evaluating performance criteria and objective functions to determine the ranking of parameters according to their spatial and temporal influence on discharge and recharge.  over 500 time consuming simulations and  results extractions were done for this purpose, which resulted in delays in finalizing this part.  

Detailed activity

1.1      Investigated sites

Two major pilot springs were selected for the purpose of the research project (Table 1; Figure 1).

  1. El Aassal spring is located at 1552 m (above sea level) in Mount Lebanon-Lebanon about 50 km from Beirut (Figure 1). Its catchment area of about 13 km2 was outlined based on five artificial tracer experiments (Figure 1). The aquifer consists of three members of highly fissured, thinly layered basal dolostone overlain by dolomitic limestone and limestone of Albian to Cenomanian age. The spring emerges at the top of underlying marls and volcanics of Aptian age. The annual discharge of Assal spring is estimated at 15-22 Mm3 (based on ongoing high-resolution monitoring since 2014). Dolines were mapped on the catchment area, and hydraulic properties of soil were estimated from representative samples collected on the catchment. Dolines and their characteristics were mapped on the catchment to determine zones of point source infiltration. Dry valleys are also considered fast flow pathways. Multiple tracer experiments were performed on the catchment to acquire transport parameters and catchment delineation. The recharge area is located between 1600 m and 2200 m and is mostly dominated by snow melt. The spring provides downstream villages in the Kesrouane district with about 24,000 m3 (0.28 m3/s) of water daily for domestic use (Figure 2 and Figure 3).

  2. Qachqouch spring located in the Metn area in Lebanon 18 km north from Beirut, is draining a catchment of about 60 km2. It originates from the Jurassic karst aquifer at about 64 meters above sea level (asl; Figure 1). The Jurassic formation is mainly formed of limestone; with intertonguing dolostones in the lower parts of the formation because of diagenetic dolomitization. Raw wastewater is either directly discharged into the river system or stored onto the catchment in bottomless septic pits or abandoned boreholes. Therefore the spring is highly polluted due to excessive non sorted solid waste and untreated waste water disposal on its urbanized catchment upstream. During low flow periods, the spring is used to complement water shortage in Beirut and its surrounding areas. The total yearly discharge of Qachqouch Spring reaches 60 Mm3, based on high resolution monitoring of the spring (2014-2017). Its flowrate is about 2 m3/s during high flow periods on average and recedes to 0.2 m3/s during recession, with a maximum recorded value at 17 m3/s for a short period of time following flood events. The total yearly precipitation is estimated at 1000 mm on average, from one station deployed over the Qachqouch catchment at 950 m asl. (2014-2017 local high resolution monitoring). The spring is used to outcome any water deficit in Beirut area during low flow periods (Figure 2and Figure 4).


Table 1  Investigated springs

Spring CatchmentArea/ municipalityLatitude
LongitudeAltitude (m asl)


Figure 1 Assal and Qachqouch Springs as part of the Nahr El Kalb investigated catchment



Figure 2 Qachqouch Spring (a; 90 m asl) and Aassal Spring (b; 1552 m asl)

Figure 3 Geological map of the Assal Spring Catchment area

Figure 4 Geological map of the Qachqouch spring catchment area​​

1.1        Site Set up and Monitoring

The selected pilot areas/experimental sites were set up for the purpose of the research project as follows:

1.1.1        Installation of climatic stations on the catchment areas of the investigated springs:

Two climatic stations to measure precipitation, wind direction and speed, relative humidity, temperature, & radiation:

1) Climatic station (Brand: HOBO) installed in Bikfaya area (altitude 945 m; Figure 5a)

2) Climatic station (Brand: Campbell Scientific) with a heated gauge installed at an altitude of 1800 m (Figure 5b)


figure 5 Climatic station installed in Bhersaf village (944 m asl) on the Qachqouch Catchment (a) and on the Assal catchment (1750 m; b) ​
1.1.2        Other equipment

·        Installation of multi probe parameters in the two investigated karst springs; namely Qachqouch and Aassal to acquire quantitative data on spring responses by measuring at a- 30 min interval (BRAND INSITU; Figure 6)  the following parameters: Water level, Temperature, pH, Redox, Turbidity, Electrical Conductivity.


​Figure 6 Installation of the multi parameter probe in the Qachqouch Spring in a protective PVC housing

·        Installation of soil moisture sensors at different depth within the soil profile to monitor soil moisture content in the soil profile to be later used for validation purposes (Figure 7)

Figure 7 Installation of a moisture sensor in a doline at different depths (0.5- 1.0 and 2.0 m) On Qachqouch Spring catchment

1.2        Fieldwork and Field tests

Catchment Characterization and Data Collection

1) Geological mapping and Soil investigation

  • Geological mapping and field validation of existing maps at a scale of 1:10000
  • Soil sampling campaign, whereby about 20 soil samples were collected for laboratory analysis (Sieving to define soil type, permeameter test to estimate hydraulic permeability at saturation). Soil thickness was also surveyed when possible.
  • Detailed mapping and characterization of dolines
  • Integration of all the spatial information on ARCGIS to create shapefiles for the catchment characterization (Geology, Soil, Catchment delineation etc…)

2) Collection of data/ Monthly visits

Monthly visits were undertaken to the pilot sites to collect data from the installed dataloggers and probes and perform discharge measurements to generate a spring discharge rating curve. Complete records since September 2014- to date are currently available (Figure 8).

Figure 8 In-situ measurements of water level and electrical conductivity in Assal Spring


 3) Tracer experiments

Two tracer experiments were undertaken on the Assal and Qachqouch Catchment area to acquire transport properties under different flow periods:

  • Two tracer experiments during a snow melt event (2016-2017; Figure 9)
  • Three tracer test during low flow periods in dolines (Figure 10 and Figure 11)
  • Four tracer experiments in a sinking stream in El Kalb River (Figure 12)

Figure 9 Tracer experiment on the Assal catchment in a doline to monitor snow melt


​​Figure 10                             Aassal Spring in Faraya/ Kfardebiane Area (Kesrouane)



Figure 11              Tracer test conducted in June 2014 on the Assal Spring catchment using Sodium Fluorescein (uranine)

4) Precipitation Event Experiments

Spring sampling (Major cations) and stable isotopes at Qachqouch spring following a rainfall event for 7 days at 4 hours interval to quantify the percentage of fast recharge at the spring and understand spring responses to rain event.(March 2015)

5) Sampling for micropollutants occurrence on Nahr el Kalb and Qachqouch spring

Four sampling campaigns were undertaken on the catchment of Qachqouch Spring.

1.    Campaign 1: About 9 samples from the river, spring, wells, and waste water were collected and sent for analysis of 90 emerging pollutants at Eaton Eurofins in California to calculate mass balances of anthropogeneic waste water pollutants in the springs and main river, and outline potential infiltration from the River especially that Qachqouch spring shows a high level of water quality degradation.

2.    Campaign 2: One additional sampling campaign for micro-pollutants in the River to assess the transport of pollutants between surface and groundwater (Qachqouch Spring, March 2017) in addition to measurements of flow on El Kalb River using a flowmeter to quantify the micro-pollutants mass loads (Figure 12).

3.    Campaign 3: The Qachqouch spring was monitored with high resolution following rain events. Spring sampling (Major cations, stable isotopes, and micropollutants; Figure 13) following three rainfall events at 4 hours interval was done with an automatic sampler to quantify the percentage of new waters arriving at the spring (Flood water) in comparison to baseflow. Samples were collected from the Qachqouch spring after a rain event (January 2016) for micro-pollutant analysis to estimate the mass fluxes of specific micropollutants (Sucralose, Iohexal, Acesulfame-K, and Gemfibrozil) reaching the spring and their origin, their persistence, and their transport in this particular karst system. The samples were shipped to Eaton Eurofins in California for analysis.

4.    Campaign 4: Micropollutant analysis on 7 springs and waste water in a village (Bikfaya) on the Qachqouch spring


Figure 12              Tracer test conducted in the Nahr El Kalb River and measurement of discharge of the River

Figure 13              Chemograph showing the variation of physico-chemical parameters and concentrations and mass fluxes of investigated micropollutants as a response to three consecutive precipitation events (E1 to E3; 15-min precipitation data). E1 to E4 refer to the four consecutive occurring events

1.3        Data analysis

1.      Collection of the gathered data/ corrections, calibration, and validation of the time series. Time series (2014-2017) for corrected Electrical conductivity, Turbidity, Temperature, and calibrated discharge (30-min interval)

2.      Development of a software to calculate Reference Evapotranspiration based on climatic data (Penman Monteith, 1997). An application on eclipse is being developed with a user friendly interface for the automatic integration of climatic data and processing of reference evapotranspiration. Preparation of small VBA codes for collected data upscaling for the purpose of the numerical simulation

3.      Long term compiled climatic time series to prospect climate change trends (Precipitation and temperature) to include later in the validated model with the US collaborator of two sets of data series. Time series were extracted from the Global climate change models (GCM, IPS_cm5 model with the RCP6.0 scenario) and included in the future predictions of the model for the Aassal catchment.

4.      Specific event time series analysis (temperature change and discharge at the spring) to evaluate the correlation between temperature-snow melt and recharge. Data collected from two snowmelt event. Spectral Analysis of tracer breakthrough curve, EC, and discharge to detect a pattern in snowmelt and correlate it with a recharge function (Fast Fourier Transform analysis).

5.      All tracer test results were successfully analyzed to estimate transport parameters using the advection dispersion (ADM) and the Two Region Non Equilibrium Models (CXTFit, Toride et al., 1999; Figure 14).


Figure 14              Analysis of the TBC of a tracer injection undertaken in a doline and recovered at Assal Spring using the conventional Advection Dispersion Model (ADM)


6.      Analysis of mass fluxes of selected domestic and hospital micropollutant. Additional analysis of chemographs and hydrographs observed after rain event, especially with relation to the breakthrough curves of emerging micropollutants (sucralose, Acesulfame, Gemfibrozil, and Iohexal) used for transport assessment in karst aquifers. 

7.      Spectral analysis of the three- year data series to characterize the spring Qachqouch and its/infiltration flow characteristics and catchment delineation, in addition to analysis of 24 responses to rain events to quantify the amount of fast flow component to the spring.

1.4        Integrated Numerical Modelling

1.      Literature Review

Literature review was done on integrated hydrogeological models simulated in semi-arid areas that are concerned with karstic features, bypass modelling, and comparison of different numerical codes.

Soil non-physical hydraulic parameters were extracted from Literature for types of soil available in the studied area. Degree Day coefficient in Lebanon was calculated based on time series.

Assal spring

2.      Model set up and parameterization:

The data collected was integrated in a numerical model (MIKE SHE model; 3-D finite differences in saturated flow, DHI, 2014). The geometry set up and parametrization of the model were successfully performed:

The setup of the model geometry was discretized vertically into topography, vegetation, soil, unsaturated zone, and saturated zone discretized into fast flow and slow flow matrix. The topography, landuse/land cover maps (vegetation and soil) layers are available for Lebanon (Figure 15).

Figure 15              Conceptualization of a karst system with MIKE she

The geological mapping and soil sampling and survey were done in Year 1. Additionally, High resolution topographic contour lines were digitized in the catchment area to create a digital Elevation Model (Figure 16). Moreover, a higher resolution of different type of soils and land use (vegetation) over the catchment were mapped and digitized from satellite imagery.

Dolines' and faults' buffers constrained the area of bypass flow in the watershed (Figure 16). Model parameterization includes the input of the main aquifer fixed (physical or calibration) parameters playing a role in groundwater flow, as well as controlling parameters of surface and unsaturated flow. The main parameters e.g. hydraulic conductivity shall range within physical values and are based on field testing or previous literature.

Figure 16              Topography of the catchment area discretized into 33x33 m cell size mesh (a), fast flow attributed to highly conductive lens (dry valleys)

The input of daily time series (precipitation, reference evapotranspiration, vegetation parameters, etc…) from collected data. Time series were upscaled from 15- min to 30 min interval to a daily basis using VBA macrocode

3.      Model run and Model Output Analysis

After the model set up and parameterization, daily numerical flow simulations were performed. The model was calibrated (using Autocal or manually by varying all the parameters especially the non-physical ones within known values). The validation of the calibration is done by comparing modeled data and observed data, mainly spring discharge, given that water level data are very difficult to acquire in karst systems). The fit between observed and simulated was compared against objective functions such as Nash- Sutcliffe coefficient between modeled and observed values = 0.77.  

Analysis of water balance results, showing distributed daily variations of simulated input and output. Finalization of the calibration of the integrated spatially distributed model of the Assal spring catchment.

4.      Sensitivity analysis and future climatic simulations

Statistical evaluations of results of the sensitivity analysis (conducted on model parameters) using cross- correlation functions and other objective functions to assess the impact of individual and coupled climatic parameters on model results

Forward simulation of the integrated model for years 2020-2099 using the climatic data (ips_cm5) model

Statistical analysis of forecast model results using various physical objective functions such as recession coefficient on selected events, total volumes, discharge maxima and minima, snow storage variation etc. to quantify the impact of climate change on the spring


Qachqouch Spring

The Qachqouch system was modelled using the software Mike She (DHI 2016a, 2016b). The modeled catchment is subdivided spatially into several sub-catchments, in addition to the saturated zone being considered as several inter-linked reservoirs (Figure 17).

1.      Model set up

The model is decomposed into different domains (Doummar et al. 2012c). The first one consists of the atmosphere composed of rainfall and snow time series spatialized on the spring catchment and its topography (Figure 17). The second domain entails a spatialized simplified unsaturated zone consisting of land use, vegetation and crop coefficients such as Leaf Area index (LAI) and Root density (RD) to calculate atmosphere consumption (coming out of the model): potential evapotranspiration (ETP) based on Penman-Monteith (FAO, 1998); water interception from vegetation (Christensen and Jensen, 1975); and runoff. The second domain also includes the unsaturated zone modeled using a simple 2-Layer model to calculate real evapotranspiration (ETR) and infiltration through unsaturated zone. By performing a water budget, the volume of water infiltrating into the last domain, the saturated zone (SZ), is then simulated per time step. The SZ is simulated via linear reservoirs composed of five interflow reservoirs, corresponding to the five major subcatchments, which are emptying into each other, respecting the topographical order, and to two baseflow reservoirs (fig. 3). In this configuration, discharge from the whole system, the Qachqouch spring discharge, consists of the cumulative discharge of spatially discretized interflow reservoirs feeding into a fast flow and a slow flow reservoir with different recession coefficients. The obtained model is a classical lumped model for the saturated zone but a physically based one for the system inputs (atmosphere) and the soil compartment.

2.      Parameterization

The model is characterized by a total of 20 parameters that define the atmosphere, unsaturated zone, and the saturated interflow and base flow reservoirs.

3.      Calibration and sensitivity analysis

The calibration of the model was done using the scenario run model in the Autocal calibration package of Mike She. A total of 1000 iterations were performed also manually where parameters were varied within a certain range (fitting or physical based on literature). The observed flowrate time series were correlated with the simulated ones on the basis of objective functions such Nash-Sutcliffe coefficient (E; closer to 1) and the Residual Mean Square Error (RMSE) to achieve the best calibration possible. Sensitivity analysis was conducted on single parameters to identify the parameters to which the model is highly sensitive. 


Figure 17              Concept map of the model using the internal structure of MIKE SHE (DHI 2016a, 2016b; Dubois, 2017).


1.5        Publications and Conferences Abstracts

  • Doummar J., Hassan Kassem A., and Gurdak J.J., 2018. Impact of historic and future climate on spring recharge and discharge based on an integrated numerical modelling approach: Application on a snow-governed semi-arid karst catchment area.  Journal of Hydrology.

  • Doummar, J., and Aoun, M. 2018. Assessment of the origin and transport of four selected emerging micropollutants sucralose, Acesulfame-K, gemfibrozil, and iohexol in a karst spring during a multi-event spring response Journal of contaminant hydrology. https://​.org/10.1016/j.jconhyd.2018.06.003
  • Doummar, J., and Aoun, M. 2018. Occurrence of selected domestic and hospital emerging micropollutants on a rural surface water basin linked to a groundwater karst catchment. Journal of Environmental Sciences. pp. 77: 351.
  • Doummar J. Kassem A., and Gurdak, J. Assessment of the sensitivity of an integarted numerical flow modelto weighted key parameters used in common qualitative vul;nerability methods (In preparation, to be submitted).
  • Dubois E, Doummar J., Pistre S, Larocque M. Calibration of a semi-distributed lumped model of a karst system using time series data analysis: the example of the Qachqouch karst spring (Lebanon; in preparation)


International Conference Presentations

  • Doummar J. Kassem A., Gurdak J.J. Impact of future climatic scenarios on spring discharge signals based on an integrated numerical modelling approach: Application on a snow-governed semi- arid karst catchment area. EGU 2018 (European Geological Union), Vienna- Austria, 8-13 Apr. 2018.
  • Doummar J. Kassem A., Gurdak J.J. Impact of future climatic scenarios on spring discharge signals based on an integrated numerical modelling approach: Application on a snow-governed semi- arid karst catchment area. AGU 2017, New Orleans- USA, 12-16 Dec. 2016
  • Doummar J. Kassem A., Quantitative assessment of key parameters in qualitative vulnerability methods applied in karst systems based on an integrated numerical modelling approach. EGU 2017 (European Geological Union), Vienna- Austria, 23-28 Apr. 2017.
  • Doummar J. Aoun M., Artificial Sweeteners: Sucralose and Acesulfame-K; Emerging Pollutants Indicators of Specific Transport in Karst Systems: Application to Semi-Arid Regions.  Lebanon. IAH 2017 44th congress, Dubrovnik- Croatia, Sept. 2017 (oral presentation)
  • Doummar J. Aoun M., Artificial Sweeteners: Sucralose and Acesulfame-K; Emerging Pollutants Indicators of Specific Transport in Karst Systems: Application to Semi-Arid Regions.  Lebanon. AGU 2016, San Francisco- USA, 12-16 Dec. 2016 (oral presentation)
  • Doummar J. Assessment of vulnerability in karst aquifers using a quantitative integrated numerical model- catchment characterization and high resolution monitoring - Application to semi-arid regions- Lebanon. IAH 2016 43rd congress, Montpellier- France, 25-28 Sept. 2016
  • Doummar J., Aoun Michel., Andari Fouad. Assessment of vulnerability in karst aquifers using a quantitative integrated numerical model- catchment characterization and high resolution monitoring - Application to semi-arid regions- Lebanon. EGU 2016 (European Geological Union), Vienna- Austria, 18-22 Apr. 2016.

1.6        Thesis and Student work

Applied materials from Geology 318, and 330I (hydrogeology and applied methods in hydrogeology) taught in Spring 2015-2016 were based on this research project. The applications included in a new course (applied methods in hydrogeology; Geol330I) were mainly related to the pilot sites of this project.

Several undergraduate and graduate research topics were developed as part of the PEER project to enhance research among graduate and undergraduate students and to initiate laboratory quantitative experiments at the Geology department. These research projects include a substantial literature review, lab work if applicable, fieldwork and reporting or short paper write up.


The hydrogeology research group entails to date about 9 students (3 graduate and 7 undergraduate). The Peer project continued to play the role of a scientific platform where research in the field of groundwater resources is enhanced. It also helped introduce the topic of hydrogeology (only taught at graduate levels) to undergraduate students.

The project allowed setting a platform to introduce undergraduate student and graduate students to the field of hydrogeology. Its impact included but not limited to the following:

  • Opportunities for graduate students to attend international conferences and present their work (Three students attended, presented their work, and developed some important connections at the European Geophysical Union conference in Vienna)
  • One additional graduate course was developed: Applied field methods in hydrogeology based on the project. Real cases were adopted from the project to illustrate monitoring and conceptual models as well as modelling.
  • The project allowed to establish a first time collaboration to host exchange masters students from the University of Montpellier in France 
  • Full set up of the laboratory for the bacteriological analysis of water and fluorescence (tracer experiments) and standards' preparation for Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy and Ionic Chromatography (training of at least four students on these analysis methods)
  • Three Masters' thesis and two undergraduate research projects were developed based on the project​
  • Aoun Michel. (To be defended in October 2018). Occurrence and transport of selected micro-pollutants in surface water and groundwater Qachqouch Spring under varying dynamic conditions Application on the Qachqouch karst catchment- Lebanon. Master thesis. American University of Beirut- Lebanon
  • Dubois Emmanuel. 2017. Analysis of high resolution spring hydrographs and climatic data: application on the Qachqouch spring (Lebanon). Master thesis. American University of Beirut- Lebanon- University of Montpellier- France​​
  • Assaad Hassan Kassem (to be defended in December 2018). Assessment of the sensitivity of an integrated numerical flow model to weighted key parameters used in common qualitative vulnerability methods.  Master thesis. American University of Beirut- Lebanon

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