Identification of factors affecting nitrate contamination in Ardabil plain aquifer using statistical methods

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad Unversity

2 Mazandaran University

3 No.5, Elahe Ave., Naseri St., South Dibaji

4 University of Tehran


Nitrate is one of the pollutants that affects groundwater in most aquifers of the country. In order to investigate the behavior of hydrogeochemical parameters of groundwater in the Ardabil plain aquifer, the results of qualitative data of 139 wells that were measured in both wet and dry seasons during the water year 2012-2011 were used. Using XLSTAT software, contamination was identified and samples were classified using principal factor analysis (PCA) and hierarchical clustering (HCA). Factor analysis method led to the extraction of five factors affecting groundwater quality with a total variance of 68.09 percent. Also, the results of factor analysis showed that the first, fourth and fifth factors are due to geogenic processes and the second and third factors are due to anthropogenic processes. The results of the hierarchical clustering method divided the samples into 3 groups, each group having 2 subsets. The set related to cluster one is spread in the northern, eastern, southern and parts of the center, west by mix(agriculture-garden), medium pasture and dry farming as well as urban areas. The set of the second cluster is often spread in the central, western and urban areas of the aquifer, with mix(agriculture-garden) and residential areas. The set of third cluster has been expanded to southwestern and urban areas. Generally, the existence of dissolution and ion exchange processes on the one hand, as well as leaching of fertilizers and incomplete development of the sewage system in the aquifer on the other hand has provided the groundwater pollution.


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