EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Comparing methods to estimate chloride natural background levels to assess sea water intrusion

David Pulido-Velazquez1, Leticia Baena-Ruiz1, Denitza Voutchkova2, Birgitte Hansen2, Klaus Hinsby2, Georgina Arnó3, Victor Camps3, Judite Fernandes4, Inga Retike5, Janis Bikse5, Gualbet Oude Essink6,7, Timo Kroon7, Joost Delsman7, Antonio-Juan Collados-Lara1, Ignacio Morel8, Juan Antonio Luque1, and Juan Grima1
David Pulido-Velazquez et al.
  • 1Instituto Geológico y Minero de España (IGME), Spain. e-mail:
  • 2Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), Denmark
  • 3Institut Cartogràfic I Geològic de Catalunya, Spain
  • 4Laboratório Nacional de Energia e Geologia (LNEG), Portugal
  • 5University of Latvia, Faculty of Geography and Earth Sciences, Riga, Latvia
  • 6Department of Physical Geography, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • 7Department of Subsurface and Groundwater Systems, Deltares, The Netherlands
  • 8Jaume I University, Spain

In order to assess the anthropogenic impacts on groundwater quality we generally need to identify the natural conditions or Natural background levels (NBLs) within groundwater systems, which are used as references to assess the evolution of the contamination status. This information, in addition to the threshold values (TVs), which are derived from NBLs and based on specific criteria values for legitimate water uses and the environment (terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems), is required to appropriately assess of the chemical status of groundwater in accordance with the European Water Framework Directive and to analyse and propose potential measures where they are required.

In literature, different methodologies are available to assess NBLs and reference TVs for different geochemical substances based on the available measurements of groundwater salinity (e.g. based on probability plots). In this work we analyze and compare three previously proposed methods for derivation of chloride NBLs, which is a conservation solute and is closely related to salt water intrusion in inland and coastal aquifers. We discuss and compare their applicability in pilots located in different settings (southern /northern European / Mediteranean/ North Sea /Baltic Sea) covering different typologies (detrital, karstic, fissured aquifers) and management issues (overexploitation, land use and land cover changes, etc). We perform sensitivity analysis to different constraints applied to remove samples affected by human activity (Nitrate and the brackish saline constraints) in the assessment of NBLs. Finally, based on this analysis, we propose a general approach for derivation of NBLs that could be applied to any of the tested pilots as well as other similar settings in Europe.


This research has been partially supported by the SIGLO-AN project (RTI2018-101397-B-I00) from the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities (Programa Estatal de I+D+I orientada a los Retos de la Sociedad).

This work has been partially supported by the GeoE.171.008-TACTIC and GeoE.171.008-HOVER projects from GeoERA organization funded by European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.

How to cite: Pulido-Velazquez, D., Baena-Ruiz, L., Voutchkova, D., Hansen, B., Hinsby, K., Arnó, G., Camps, V., Fernandes, J., Retike, I., Bikse, J., Oude Essink, G., Kroon, T., Delsman, J., Collados-Lara, A.-J., Morel, I., Luque, J. A., and Grima, J.: Comparing methods to estimate chloride natural background levels to assess sea water intrusion, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-16210,, 2021.

Corresponding presentation materials formerly uploaded have been withdrawn.