The Feasibility of Water Harvesting and Storage in Shallow Aquifers in the Eastern Badia of Jordan

Project Number: 
Project Duration: 
24 months
June 1, 2000 to May 31, 2002
Institution of Principle Investigator while on this project: 
Desert Research Institute

Investigators (most current known information)

Research Professor, Water Resources Center, Desert Research Institute, University & Community College System of Nevada, 2215 Raggio Parkway, Reno NV 89512-1095
TEL: +1-775-673-7422, FAX: +1-775-673-7363, Email:
Associate Professor, Earth & Environmental Sciences, Yarmouk University, Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences, Irbid 21163, JORDAN
TEL: +962-2-727-1100 ext. 2921, FAX: +962-2-724-984, Email:
Senior Lecturer, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Institute of Earth Sciences, Jerusalem 91904, ISRAEL
TEL: +972-2-658-4210, FAX: +972-2-566-2581, Email:

Proposal Abstract

Perched aquifers in the arid region of Tulul al Asaquif in northeastern Jordan are an important traditional source of water in this area, and could potentially be a significant contributor in the future. Despite this, little effort has been expended quantifying the distribution and nature of this resource. This project was focused on a multi-disciplinary approach to quantifying and understanding the resource potential of these shallow waters.

Yarmouk University used remotely sensed data, digital terrain modeling, and geo-electric surveys to identify four sites for the drilling and development of shallow wells in Tulul al Ashquif area (roughly halfway between the towns of Safawi and Ruwaishid in the Badia Region of Jordan). At two of the locations, shallow groundwater was found (Wadi Ghussein at 13 m and Wadi Abiad at 18 m). Using remotely sensed data and conservative assumptions, it is estimated that 0.56 x 106 m3 is stored in the Wadi Ghussein aquifer and 3.1 x 106 m3 in the Abiad aquifer. The waters found in these wells have been subjected to water quality and isotopic analyses; and were found acceptable for domestic use. The waters found in these wells have been subjected to water quality and isotopic analyses; and found acceptable for domestic use.

This study demonstrated that there are shallow water resources in the region that they are of good quality, renewable, and perhaps, extensive since they are associated with valley floors (which are extensive). It is also pertinent to observe that the source of recharge for these aquifers is likely flood discharges rather than the surrounding bedrock. While this limited study had only a 50% success rate in finding water, the experience gained will allow for more refined approaches in future exploration activities. From the viewpoint of sustainable development and the preservation of indigenous lifestyles, the renewable nature of the resources found have an advantage over more plentiful, but non-renewable resources in deeper aquifers.

Mr. Khaldoon Al-Qudah, a Jordanian national, will defend his Ph.D. dissertation on 13 May 2003 at the University of Nevada, Reno. The title of his dissertation is The Influence of Long-Term Landscape Stability on Flood Hydrology and the Evolution of Valley Floors in the NE Desert of Jordan. After the completion of his degree requirements, Mr. Al-Qudah will return to Jordan to assume a faculty appointment in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Yarmouk University, Irbid, Jordan.

The dissertation has three primary themes:

  1. Drainage network development on basaltic lava flows on the northwestern basaltic plateau of Jordan; that is the Badia Region.
  2. Desert pavement characteristics and the spatial variation of soil water movement in the Northeastern Badia of Jordan.
  3. Flood and paleoflood hydrology in the Northeastern Badia of Jordan.

The themes of this dissertation directly complement the work of Yarmouk University regarding the shallow aquifers. It is anticipated that three peer-reviewed publications will result from this research.


Articles in Journals

French, R.H. 2005. "Desert pavement characteristics and spatial variation in soil water movement in the Northeastern Badia of Jordan." Geological Society of America Bulletin (in preparation).

French, R.H. 2005. "Drainage development on Basaltic lava flows, Northeastern Badia of Jordan." Journal of Geomorphology (in preparation).

French. R.H. 2005. "Hydroclmatology, flood/paleoflood hydrology in Northeastern Badia of Jordan." Journal of Hydrology (in preparation).

Yarmouk, A. "Investigation of shallow ground water in the Tulul al Ashaqif Highlands, Jordan." Pure Science and Engineering Series. ISSN 1023-0149.

Ph.D. Dissertation

Al-Qudah. K. The influence of long-term landscape stability on flood hydrology and the evolution of valley floors in the NE Desert of Jordan. Ph.D. Dissertation. University of Nevada-Reno. Reno NV.


Support for this project came from the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service