The impact of livestock activities and geochemical processes on groundwater quality of fractured volcanic rock aquifer: Lake Çıldır watershed (NE Turkey)

Simozar Mohammadi Govarchin, İrfan Yolcubal*, Ahmet Şener, Ercan Sanğu, Kemal Güneş, Mehmet Beşiktaş

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents the impact of livestock activities and geochemical processes on the water quality of a fractured volcanic rock aquifer in the Lake Çıldır watershed, located at the northeastern part of Turkey. The existence of a high livestock population and animal grazing activities in meadow and pasturelands of the watershed during the short summer period poses serious stress on both surface and groundwater resources being the only drinking water supply for the local communities. Therefore, understanding the effect of grazing and livestock breeding activities occurring in the recharge areas of the fractured volcanic rock aquifer is vital to take precautions in order to protect limited water supplies at the watershed and vulnerable lake ecosystem as well. The mean nitrate content of the groundwater was measured at 6.4 ± 6.6 (std. dev) mg/L in the wet (before grazing) period and 7.1 ± 5.9 mg/L in the dry (after grazing) period. Despite low nitrate concentration levels of groundwater, microbial contamination was observed in the spring waters at alarming levels especially after the animal grazing activities. 56%, 26%, and 11% of the groundwater samples showed bacterial contamination in terms of total coliform, fecal coliform, and fecal streptococci contents, respectively, prior to grazing activity, while in pursuit of intense livestock grazing at highland, these microbial indicators have been increased to 92%, 85%, and 77% in the dry period. A significant increase observed in fecal contamination indicates the negative impact of livestock activities on groundwater quality. Al (200–638 µg/L) and Fe (66–218 µg/L) enrichments locally observed in groundwater were related to advanced argillic alteration (kaolinization) and hematization zones in pyroclastic rocks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number436
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


This study was a part of project (Çıldır Lake Basin Protection Plan and Special Provision Determination) funded by Serhat Development Agency (SERKA). The authors are grateful to the SERKA and TUBITAK-MAM allowing this research to go ahead. We thank anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.

FundersFunder number
Serhat Development Agency


    • Aluminum
    • Groundwater contamination
    • Lake Çıldır
    • Livestock activities
    • Nitrate


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