Chapter 26

Neogene Aquifer System (South-East), Dibdibba-Kuwait Group

Dibdibba Delta Basin

Executive Summary 

The Neogene Aquifer System (South-East) represents the northern extension of the Neogene Aquifers, which overlie the Paleogene Formations in the north-east of the Arabian Platform. The aquifer system is located mainly within the boundaries of the Dibdibba Delta basin, which is formed by the Wadi ar Rimah- Wadi al Batin that extends from the Arabian Shield in the west to the mouth of Shatt al Arab.

The basin stretches across three countries and comprises three aquiferous formations, known as Dibdibba, Lower Fars and Ghar Formations in Iraq and Kuwait, and Hofuf, Dam and Hadrukh Formations in Saudi Arabia. Groundwater has traditionally been abstracted mainly from the Upper Dibdibba Formation in southern Iraq and Kuwait or the Lower Hadrukh Formation in Saudi Arabia, which are mainly sands and gravels of continental origin. In recent years, abstraction of groundwater from these aquifers seems to be limited by two main factors: dewatering of the Dibdibba Formation, which has become largely unsaturated in several areas, and inversion of downward groundwater flow from the Neogene to the Paleogene Formations in heavy abstraction areas.

  • Khor al Zubair port, Basrah, Iraq, 2012. Source: Earth & Marine Environmental Consultants.
  • Hafr al Batin area, Saudi Arabia, 2007. Source: Drh104.
  • Hafr al Batin area, Saudi Arabia, 2007. Source: Drh104.
  • Kuwait, 2011. Source: Cajetan Barretto.

Basin Facts 

Riparian Countries Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia
Alternative Names Ad Dibdibba Stony Desert,
Ad Dibdibba Alluvial Fan,
Dibdibba Plain, Kuwait Plain
Renewability Very low to low (0-20 mm/yr)
Hydraulic Linkage with Surface Water Medium
Rock Type Porous
Aquifer Type Unconfined (central areas),
Confined (coastal areas)
Extent 153,000 km2
Age Cenozoic
Lithology Predominantly sands and gravel
Thickness 30-200 m (common range)
Max.: 550 m
Average Annual Abstraction Iraq: ~370 MCM
Kuwait: 88 MCM
Storage Iraq: 1.26 BCM
Water Quality Brackish to saline
(2,500 mg/L to 15,000 mg/L TDS)
Water Use Mainly agricultural
Agreements --
Sustainability Water level decline and inversion of vertical flow due to over-exploitation