Groundwater flow along and across structural folding: An example from the Judean Desert, Israel

Leehee Laronne Ben-Itzhak, Haim Gvirtzman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


The considerable influence of the geological structure on groundwater flow regime is exhibited in the thick carbonate aquifer beneath the Judean Desert, Israel. Groundwater flow is diverted from the general steep hydraulic gradient, creating a subsurface 'river-like' meandering flow pattern. The structure of the extensive-folded anticlinorium forces groundwater flow through synclinal axes in the upper aquifer and in places it overflows from one to an adjacent syncline. Groundwater outflows are at Tsukim, Kane, Samar and En-Gedi springs near the Dead Sea shore and by sub-surface flow across the Graben faults towards the Dead Sea. In this study all available data are integrated and processed, first ever, to form a complete representation of the three-dimensional hydrostratigraphy and hydrogeology. Using numerical modeling (MODFLOW), we analyzed quantitatively the flow regime, leakage rates between upper and lower sub-aquifers and between adjacent sub-basins, the groundwater mass balance, and aquifer hydraulic properties. This study has practical implications regarding recent groundwater management, future possibilities of groundwater development for the benefit of both Israelis and Palestinians residing in the area, and conservation of nature reserves located along the Dead Sea.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)51-69
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - 10 Oct 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This paper summarizes the MSc thesis of the first author ( Laronne Ben-Itzhak, 2003 ), conducted under the supervision of the second author. This research was supported by grants from the Ring Research Fund at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and from the Ministry of Environmental Quality (through the Authority for Nature and National Parks Protection). The authors thank Mr Adi Bin-Nun for his help in the GIS analyses; Dr Alon Rimer and Mrs Svetlana Lumelsky for their help in calibrating the computational model; and Dr Yosi Guttman and Mr Nisim Keshet for their helpful remarks. Finally, we would like to thank Prof E. Rosenthal and the second anonymous reviewers for their constructive remarks.


  • Aquifer
  • Dead Sea
  • Flow
  • Groundwater
  • Israel
  • Modeling


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