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Analysis and assessment of hydrochemical characteristics of Maragheh-Bonab Plain aquifer, Northwest of Iran
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The present study aims at assessing the hydrochemistry of the groundwater system of the Maragheh-Bonab Plain located in the East Azarbaijan Province, northwest of Iran. The groundwater is used mainly for drinking, agriculture and industry. The study also discusses the issue of the industrial untreated wastewater discharge to the Plain aquifer that is a high Ca-Cl water type with TDS value of about 150 g/L. The hydrogeochemical study is conducted by collecting and analyzing the groundwater samples from July and September of 2013. The studied system contains three major groundwater types, namely Ca–Mg–HCO3, Na–Cl, and non-dominant water, based on the analysis of the major ions. The main processes contributing to chemical compositions in the groundwater are the dissolution along the flow path, dedolomitisation, ion exchange reactions, and the mixing with wastewater. According to the computed water quality index (WQI) ranging from 25.45 to 194.35, the groundwater in the plain can be categorized into “excellent water”, “good water”, and “poor water”. There is a resemblance between the spatial distribution of the WQI and hydrochemical water types in the Piper diagram. The “excellent” quality water broadly coincides with the Ca-Mg-HCO3 water type. The “poor” water matches with the Na–Cl water type, and the “good” quality water coincides with blended water. The results indicate that this aquifer suffers from intense human activities which are forcing the aquifer into a critical condition.