Chapter 22

Basalt Aquifer System (South)

Azraq-Dhuleil Basin

Executive Summary 

The Azraq-Dhuleil Basin extends over the south-eastern part of the Jebel al Arab basalt field in south-western Syria and north-eastern Jordan, comprising the catchment of the Azraq groundwater discharge area between the Jebel al Arab Mountain range in the north, the northeastern desert in Jordan and the Azraq Plain.

Groundwater in the Basalt Aquifer System of the Azraq-Dhuleil Basin flows from topographically higher parts of the catchment to the major discharge zone in the Azraq area in the south. The groundwater flow regime extends over a combined aquifer system constituted mainly of permeable layers in Neogene-Quaternary basalts and underlying Paleogene chalky limestones. In the Dhuleil area in the west of the Azraq-Dhuleil Basin, the aquifer system also includes Upper Cretaceous limestones and dolomites.

Groundwater discharge appears to be maintained largely by present-day recharge over wide catchment areas with travel periods of more than 20,000 years. Discharge from springs in the Azraq area ceased completely after the creation of a large well field in the area in 1980. Groundwater quality has deteriorated as a result of the infiltration of irrigation return flows in downstream areas where intensive irrigation takes place.

  • The basalt rock formations in the area of Al Lajat, north of Suweida, Syria, 2009. Source: Adel Samara.
  • Agriculture in the area of Azraq, Jordan, 2009. Source: David L. Kennedy, Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East.
  • Azraq Oasis, Jordan, 1997. Source: David L. Kennedy, Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in
  • Area of Mafraq, Jordan, 2009. Source: Robert Bewley, Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East.

Basin Facts 

Riparian Countries Jordan, Syria
Alternative Names --
Renewability South: medium
North: high
Hydraulic Linkage with Surface Water Medium to low (2-100 mm/yr)
Rock Type Fractured to mixed
Aquifer Type Unconfined
Extent 8,500 km2
Age Neogene-Quaternary, Paleogene, Upper Cretaceous
Lithology Basalt, limestone
Thickness <100m - >500m
Average Annual Abstraction Northern part: 15-20 MCM
Storage --
Water Quality Mainly fresh, brackish in some areas
Water Use Agricultural and domestic
Agreements --
Sustainability Groundwater level decline and salinization due to over-abstraction