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Development and testing of three hybrid

methods for the assessment of aquifer
vulnerability to nitrates, based on the drastic
model, an example from NE Korinthia, Greece

Article in Journal of Hydrology February 2007

Impact Factor: 3.05 DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2006.08.014


56 58

2 authors, including:

Andreas Antonakos
General Secretariat for Civil Protection


Available from: Andreas Antonakos

Retrieved on: 11 May 2016
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Development and testing of three hybrid methods

for the assessment of aquifer vulnerability
to nitrates, based on the drastic model, an
example from NE Korinthia, Greece

A.K. Antonakos *, N.J. Lambrakis on
University of Patras, Geology Department, 26500 Rio, Greece

Received 22 February 2006; received in revised form 30 August 2006; accepted 31 August 2006

KEYWORDS Summary The assessment of groundwater vulnerability to pollution has proved to be an effec-
Aquifer vulnerability; tive tool for the delineation of protection zones in areas affected by groundwater contamina-
Drastic; tion due to the intensive fertilizer applications. The main objective of this study has been to
Korinthia; develop and check the results of three hybrid methods for specific aquifer vulnerability assess-
Greece; ment based upon the parameters, classification and rating principles of the well known DRASTIC
Logistic regression; model. The first method, proposed by [Panagopoulos, G., Antonakos, A., Lambrakis, N., 2006.
Weights of evidence Optimization of DRASTIC model for groundwater vulnerability assessment, by the use of simple

statistical methods and GIS. Hydrogeology Journal (published online).], has proved to be an
effective way to modify the DRASTIC model in order to achieve better correlation with actual
nitrates occurrence. Descriptive statistics and simple statistical tests on a hydrochemical data-
set are used by the method in order to change the initial factor ratings and factor weights par-

ticipating in the vulnerability assessment equation. The other two methods were developed by
the use of logistic regression and weights of evidence statistical procedures and the use of the
same hydrochemical dataset, and attain relatively high correlation factors when referring to

sample points while correlation was significantly lower for the entire distributions of vulnera-
bility estimation and actual nitrates occurrence.
2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Intrinsic vulnerability of an aquifer can be defined as the

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +3210 9414210; fax: +32610 997782. ease with which a contaminant introduced into the ground
E-mail address: (A.K. Antonakos). surface can reach and diffuse in groundwater (Margat,

0022-1694/$ - see front matter 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Development and testing of three hybrid methods for the assessment of aquifer vulnerability 289

1968; Vrba and Zaporozec, 1994). It is a relative, dimension- Parameters used as predictor variables can be continuous
less and non-measurable property, which depends on the or discrete variables.
aquifer characteristics, but also the characteristics of the A method similar to logistic regression, based on the
wider geological and hydrological environment (unsaturated probability of occurrence of a binary pattern and Bayes
zone, soil horizon, relief, recharge, etc.). rules for probability, is the weights of evidence method
Specific vulnerability may be expressed as the likelihood originally developed for mineral potential mapping.
that an aquifer be polluted by contaminants, which are The end product of these two methods is a distribution of
introduced into the ground surface. This is determined by probability that a pollutant will exceed a certain value,
the aquifer intrinsic vulnerability and the contaminant load- showing statistically derived indications of vulnerability as
ing that is applied to the specific point of the hydrogeolog- opposed to the more subjective categorical rating methods.

ical basin or even in a region around this point. The Process-based methods refer to approaches that either
contaminant loading is determined by the quantity, the simulate or otherwise take into account physical processes
physico-chemical properties, and the way in which the var- of water movement and the associated fate and transport
ious contaminants are released into the environment. of contaminants in the environment. These approaches usu-
The assessment of groundwater vulnerability to pollution ally include the use of process simulating models that calcu-

has been subject to intensive research during the past years late the distribution of vulnerable or intrinsically
and a variety of methods have been developed. The sim- susceptible areas based on the movement of water and sol-
plest to apply and for that reason the most widely used utes. Because of data needs and complexity, these methods
are the Rating Models. These methods classify each are suitable mainly for large scale studies.
parameter, which potentially influences the probability of Combinations of the above methods also known as hybrid
pollution of the aquifer, in a scale and lead to a score, which methods are defined in general as any methods that com-
designates the vulnerability of the groundwater (LeGrand, bine components of statistical, process-based, and (or) in-

1964; Foster, 1987; US Environmental Protection Agency, dex methods. Objective hybrid methods include
1993). combinations of statistical, process-based, or other objec-
An evolution of these methods is the Point Count Sys- tive components in the determination of explanatory vari-
tem Models (PCSM) or Parameter Weighting and Rating ables or processes. Objective hybrid methods commonly
Methods, which apart from classifying the various rely on preconceived scoring systems such as DRASTIC or
parameters also introduce relative weight coefficients other index methods.
for each factor. In this study, three hybrid methods combining the DRAS-
The most widespread PCSM method of evaluation of the TIC methods categorization and rating principles, with sta-

intrinsic vulnerability is the DRASTIC method (Aller et al., tistical procedures such as descriptive statistics, logistic
1987). This method, taking into account seven parameters regression and weights of evidence are developed and their
of the geological and hydrological environment, was devel- results are compared. Comparison is based on the correla-

oped in the USA, where it has been applied several times tion of their results to actual pollution occurrence (ex-
(Durnford et al., 1990; Evans and Myers, 1990; Halliday pressed as nitrate concentration or probability of
and Wolfe, 1991; Rundquist et al., 1991; Fritch et al., exceeding a certain nitrate concentration), their complex-
2000; Shukla et al., 2000), but also in many other regions ity and their data needs. The selection of nitrates as a pol-
of the world (Lobo-Ferreira and Oliveira, 1997; Lynch lution index was based not only on the fact that it
et al., 1997; Melloul and Collin, 1998; Johansson et al., constitutes the main contaminant that human activities
1999; Kim and Hamm, 1999; Zabet, 2002). introduce into the environment of the study area, but also
Two other groups of methods for the assessment of aqui- because it has been proposed as a representative indicator

fer specific vulnerability (pollution potential) are the statis- of groundwater quality degradation (US Environmental Pro-
tical and process-based methods. tection Agency, 1996).
Statistical methods range from simple descriptive statis-
tics of concentrations of targeted contaminants to more

complex regression analyses that incorporate the effects Geological and hydrogeological setting
of several predictor variables. When a dataset of water-

quality and potential explanatory variables is available, sta- The study area is located in the northeastern part of Pelo-
tistical models, mainly in the form of regression equations, ponnesus Greece, in the central part of Korinthia prefecture
can be used to predict probabilities of contamination. area and it is approximately 902 km2 in area (Fig. 1).
Hypothesis tests allow elimination of insignificant variables The geological bedrock consists of the carbonate sedi-

that offer little to the assessment process. The procedure ments of the Trapezona sequence (a transition zone between
produces weighting factors that optimize the use of impor- Pindos and Pelagonian geotectonic zones) in the southeast-
tant variables thereby removing the need for subjective ern part of the study area and the carbonate sediments
influences of best professional judgment in determining and flysch of the Pindos and Tripolis zones in the southwest-
the importance of each variable. Logistic regression is a sta- ern part of the study area (Katsikatsos, 1992) (Fig. 2a).
tistical method that predicts the probability of occurrence The Trapezona carbonate sequence consists of plated
of a binary pattern. (Helsel and Hirsch, 1992). Concentra- limestones of Triassic to Upper Jurassic age with nodules
tions of pollutants are continuous parameters but can be and thin bands of chert. In Middle Jurassic, this sequence
transformed to binary form using a threshold concentration. was interfered by the shalescherts formation made up of
Concentrations above this threshold can be denoted as pres- bedded sandstone clay and marl with ophiolithic bodies in
ence and concentrations below this threshold as absence. theme.
290 A.K. Antonakos, N.J. Lambrakis

Figure 1 Shaded relief and geographic orientation map of the study area.
The Tripolis zone consists of a dolomitic limestone to The Calabrian conglomerates aquifer with an average
limestone series of Upper Jurassic to Eocene age, which thickness of 50100 m and high values of hydraulic con-
are uncomformably overlaid by the Tripolis zone flysch ductivity (129.6 m/day) (Zervogiannis, 1991).
formation. The aquifer that develops within the eluvial and sea ter-
The Pindos zone formation in the study area consists of races formations, with an average thickness of 3050 m

Upper Cretaceous platy limestones, which are uncomform- and medium to high hydraulic conductivity values
ably overlaid by the Pindos zone flysch formation. Pindos (1.72 m/day) (Mastoris et al., 1971).
zone is geotectonically overthrusted on the Tripolis zone The aquifer that develops within recent alluvial and talus

with a general NESW thrust direction. cone deposits with an average thickness of 4060 m and
The main part of the study area is covered by post oro- hydraulic conductivity values varying from 8.64 to
genic sediments of Pliocene to Holocene age, which uncom- 69.12 m/day (Koumantakis et al., 1999). This aquifer is
formably overlay the bedrock formations. They consist of in most cases in hydraulic contact with the underlying
Pliocene lacustrine marls interbedded by thin layers of con- aquifer of eluvial and sea terraces formations from which
glomerates and sandstones, cemented fluvial (proximal and it is laterally recharged.
distal) conglomerates of Calabrian age, sea terraces of Tyr-
rhenian age, eluvial deposits consisting of alterations of red The impermeable layer underlying all the aquifers of the

sand, clay, sandy loam and loose conglomerates of Pleisto- post orogenic sediments is the lacustine marls of the Plio-
cene age and finally recent alluvial deposits and talus cones cene marl formation as it can be seen in the geological cross
(Fig. 2a). section of Fig. 2a.
From the hydrogeological point of view six major hydro- The mean annual precipitation in the study area for the

geological units (aquifers) can be distinguished: period 19752004 is 594 mm, which corresponds to the
mean annual rainfall water volume of 535.8 106 m3. Pre-

The carbonate aquifers of the bedrock which are fully cipitation is directly related to altitude by the relationship
karstic for the Trapezona sequence and Tripolis zone P = 0.34 h + 468. The water balance parameters have been
and partly karstic for the Pindos zone. They are highly computed based on the procedures described by Thorn-
productive aquifers with an average thickness of 100 thwaite et al. (1955). A big part of the annual precipitation

400 m and hydraulic conductivity values varying from namely 360.9 106 m3 (67.5%) is lost via evapotranspiration,
0.34775.6 m/day (Mastoris et al., 1971; Morfis and while 102.6 106 m3 (19.1%) infiltrates and recharges
Zojer, 1986). groundwater. The rest 71.8 106 m3 (13.4%) discharges to
The flysch formations of Tripolis and Pindos zones as well the sea as surface runoff.
as the shalescherts formations of the Trapezona A major part of the study area, namely 49.9%, is covered
sequence can be distinguished as impermeable units. with intensive cultivations (vineyards, fruit trees, olive
The Pliocene marl aquifer that develops in the thin beds groves) which are widely spread in the whole extent of
of sandstones and conglomerates interbedded within the the study area. The use of inorganic fertilizers in these cul-
marl formation. It is a confined aquifer with an average tivations has a great polluting effect on groundwater. The
thickness of 210 m and low hydraulic conductivity val- composition of these fertilizers is mainly ammonium sul-
ues (0.086 m/day) (Mastoris et al., 1971). phate and ammonium nitrate, so the major expected pollu-
Development and testing of three hybrid methods for the assessment of aquifer vulnerability 291

o r's

Figure 2 Base maps of the study area: (a) geological map and geological cross-section of the study area; (b) land use map of the
study area; (c) soil type map of the study area.
292 A.K. Antonakos, N.J. Lambrakis

tant in the study area is nitrogen mainly in the form of ni- Methodology of determination of aquifer
trates. A big part of the coastal zone of the study area is
specific vulnerability (pollution risk)
covered by urban and suburban areas, which add an extra
environmental pressure to the groundwater of the coastal
The modified DRASTIC method
alluvial aquifer.
As it was mentioned before, the DRASTIC method considers
seven parameters, making up the acronym: Depth to
Materials and methods groundwater, Recharge, Aquifer type, Soil type, Topogra-
phy, Impact of the vadose zone, hydraulic Conductivity.
These parameters are imported in a simple linear equa-

For the determination of actual pollution occurrence in the
study area, an extensive sampling and analysis program of tion, after they have been reduced from the physical range
groundwater was conducted. Groundwater samples were scale to a ten-grade relative scale. Each parameter is mul-
collected in the dry period of the 2003 hydrological year tiplied by a weighting coefficient, which has been deter-
at a more or less uniform sampling network, which includes mined subjectively, based on the professional judgment of

124 sampling points, covering the whole extent of the study the authors of this method. The reduction of the physical
area. Bores were flashed by turning on the bore pump and range scale to the relative ten-grade scale is conducted with
allowing it to run for approximately 30 min, until it was the same philosophy. The linear equation of determination
freshly drawn from the aquifer. Plastic 500 ml bottles were has the following form:
filled with the groundwater sample, filtered through a Milli- V intrinsic D  kD R  kR A  kA S  kS T  kT I  kI
pore filter paper (0.45 lm), and stored in an insulated
C  kC 1
cooler until frozen later in the day. Samples were analyzed

for NO3 by the cadmium reduction method, using a DR/4000
Where V(intrinsic) is the intrinsic vulnerability, D the depth
Hach spectrophotometer. to groundwater, R the recharge, A the aquifer type, S the
In addition, to the results of this study, results from soil type, T the topography (surface slope), I the impact
three other studies conducted earlier in parts of the study
of the vadose zone type, C the hydraulic conductivity and
area (Daskalaki et al., 1998; Voudouris et al., 2000; Stamatis k the weighting coefficient for each factor.
and Voudouris, 2003) were used in order to support the sta- The major drawback of this method is the subjectivity of
tistical significance of the database used for spatial interpo- the determination of the rating scale and the weighting
lation and statistical analysis. In order to verify that no coefficients. Doubts have also been expressed for the selec-

statistically significant difference exists between those tion of the specific parameters and the exclusion of others
datasets, individual MannWhitney U test (Mann and Whit- (Garrett et al., 1989; Vrba and Zaporozec, 1994; Merchant,
ney, 1947) was conducted between all possible pairs of 1994; Rosen, 1994).

datasets as well as an overall KruskalWallis dependency Improvements of the DRASTIC model have been proposed
test (Kruskal and Wallis, 1952). These tests prove that no by several researchers. Most of them propose the subtrac-
statistically significant difference exists among the data tion of factors included in the model (Evans and Myers,
sets used for analysis. 1990; Rupert, 1999) or the inclusion of additional factors
Depth to groundwater distribution was produced based like land use or irrigation type and intensity (Secunda
on water level measurements contacted in 165 wells uni- et al., 1998; Rupert, 1999; McLay et al., 2001). Finally pro-
formly spread in the whole extent of the study area interpo- posals about incorporating DRASTIC with other procedures
lated by the use of ordinary kriging method. or models, like capture zone delineation or finite element

The determination of the aquifers hydraulic parame- flow and transport models, have been made (Foster, 1987;
ters was based on 14 pumping tests conducted in previ- Merchant, 1994).
ous studies (Mastoris et al., 1971; Voudouris et al., Fewer attempts have been made to validate and verify
2000). the model performance. In most cases, correlation of model

Due to lack of a soil type map for the study area, a map results with actual pollution occurrence was done for that
was constructed for the needs of the present study, with the purpose (Kalinski et al., 1994; Rupert, 1999; McLay et al.,
combined use of the Land Resource Map (scale 1:50,000) 2001).

published by the Institute of Forestry of the National Agri- For the assessment of pollution potential in this study, a
cultural Research Foundation and 202 soil core samples modification of the DRASTIC method proposed by Panagop-
and textural analysis performed by the Institute of Forestry oulos et al. (2006) is used. The modification is based upon

and the Institute of Soil Research of the National Agricul- simple statistical procedures involving
tural Research Foundation. Unit separations of Land Re-
source Map are based on characteristics like landforms, 1. Revision of the rating scale of each parameter
soil depth, slope, aspect, erosion, surficial geology and 2. Revision of the factor weights and
state of natural vegetation. Soil type map (Fig. 2c) was con- 3. Addition and subtraction of parameters, based on their
structed after assigning soil texture classes to every unit of correlation to nitrates concentration.
Land Resource Map according to the soil core sample(s)
every unit map contained. A revision of the rating scales is accomplished by using
Finally for the determination of the land use types of the the mean of every class of each parameter defined in the
study area, the Corine Land Cover (Bossard et al., 2000) initial model. Following the check that was carried out using
data and classification were used. the Wilcoxon rank-sum nonparametric statistical test (Wil-
Development and testing of three hybrid methods for the assessment of aquifer vulnerability 293

coxon, 1945), it was ascertained that the mean of two (parameters with discrete classes, e.g. aquifer type, vadose
neighboring classes, did not differ statistically. Classes were zone type and soil type) all the categories existing in the
grouped in such cases, while for non-continuous parameters area were maintained, regardless of statistical diversity.

o r's

Figure 3 Box plots showing the distribution of groundwater nitrates concentration for the statistically different classes of all the
DRASTIC parameters and land use.
294 A.K. Antonakos, N.J. Lambrakis

The box plot diagrams of all the statistically divergent clas- points were available, the grade of each category was
ses of all the DRASTIC parameters are illustrated in Fig. 3. In derived from the literature (Secunda et al., 1998; Rupert,
Table 1 the parameter classes, as well as the corresponding 1999; McLay et al., 2001). The grades of land use categories
rating of each class, the average nitrates concentration and are presented in Table 3. The bottom right box plot diagram
the respective modified rating of every class or group of of Fig. 3 displays the nitrates distribution characteristics for
classes are presented. Modified rating values were derived each land use category.
using the mean nitrates concentration of each class reduced The relative weight of this factor is produced in the same
to a ten-grade scale. way as the other factors revised weights based on the corre-
The next step of the initial model modification is the lation index (Spearman q = 0.32; Kendall s = 0.23) between
revision of the weighting factors, with which each DRASTIC the spatial mean of the land use rating over an area of

parameter participates in Eq. (1). This revision is achieved 300 m and the nitrates concentration as it is proposed by
by the study of the correlation of each parameter with Panagopoulos et al. (2006).
the nitrates concentration for the 224 sampling points of With the addition of the new parameter, Eq. (2) now ex-
the research area. For the calculation of the quantitative presses the specific vulnerability of the aquifers, such as
correlation between the discrete (nominal) parameters

V specific Aquifer Pollution Risk
and the nitrates concentration, their factor scores were
used. Additionally, due to the fact that the factor scores 3:5  D 3:8  A 5  T 3:4  I 4  L; 2
vary with an interval scale, the correlation was calculated
where V(specific) is the specific vulnerability, D the depth to
using the Spearmans q and Kendalls s correlation coeffi-
groundwater, R the recharge, A the aquifer type, T the
cients (Kendall, 1975), which are advisable for such type
topography, I the impact of the vadose zone and L the con-
of parameters. Based on these coefficients and after their
taminant loading per land use category.
values were reduced to a scale with a maximum value of
The specific vulnerability or pollution risk map, which re-

5, as it is defined by the DRASTIC model, the new weighting
sults from the application of the above equation, is pre-
factors were calculated. In the case when one of the coef-
sented in Fig. 4a. Correlation between pollution risk and
ficients is not statistically significant, the corresponding
natural logarithm of nitrates concentration was calculated
parameter will be excluded from the equation of vulnerabil-
for the 244 sample points with a Spearmans r correlation
ity. Table 2 shows the correlation coefficient values and the
factor of 0.64 and for the entire study area using the Spear-
revised weighting factors, where it becomes evident that
mans r correlation coefficient between all unit cells of the
the Soil type Recharge and Hydraulic conductivity
two distributions in raster format (Bonham-Carter, 1994),
parameters are not statistically significant and should be ex-

which was 0.65. Transformation of nitrates concentration

cluded. It is also seen that the largest weighting factor is
to a log scale was done in order to obtain a normally distrib-
attributed to the Topography parameter, while the
uted parameter suitable for the calculation of Pearsons r
Depth to groundwater, Aquifer type and Impact of

the vadose zone weighting factors are degraded with re-

The scatter diagram of Fig. 6a illustrates the correlation
spect to the initial ones, although they remain relatively
between specific vulnerability and the natural logarithm of
nitrates concentration for the 224 sample points.
The original DRASTIC model application, as well as mod-
ifications of the method, is related to the intrinsic vulnera-
bility calculation, which is the most important factor Logistic regression
affecting the nitrates concentration in the groundwater.
However, as mentioned before, the contaminant loading ap- As it was mentioned before Point Count System Models

plied to the ground surface of the research area has a major (PCSM) like DRASTIC use a simple linear equation to esti-
impact upon the nitrates concentration of the groundwater, mate aquifer vulnerability. This equation is similar to those
and combined with the intrinsic vulnerability constitutes produced by regression models. The main difference be-
the specific vulnerability or pollution risk of the aquifer. tween these two procedures is that parameter weight coef-

For the calculation of this quantity, one more factor should ficients are subjectively estimated for PCSM models and
be added to the modified DRASTIC equation in order to ex- objectively calculated with the use of the existing data in

press the contaminant loading in each point of the research the case of regression models.
area. Panagopoulos et al. (2006) suggest theland use as a Regression models have been widely used in environmen-
surrogate variable for the contaminant loading parameter tal studies (Giblin et al., 1981; Rao et al., 1997; Kreuger and
and specifically the spatial mean of the land use rating over Tornqvist, 1998; Xinde et al., 2000), and particularly in

an area of 300 m surrounding the sample point. It is known aquifer vulnerability assessment (Mueller et al., 1997; Teso-
that high nitrate concentrations in the urban part of the riero and Voss, 1997; Rupert, 1998; Nolan et al., 2002). Mul-
study area are attributed to the use of septic tanks in con- tiple linear regression, which is the most widely used
junction with the disposal domestic effluent into abandoned regression model, uses the Ordinary Least Squares (OLS)
wells. The method tries to incorporate this fact by assigning method for the determination of parameter weight factors.
the maximum rating to the urban land use category. The Least Squares method has some limitations regarding
The grade of each land use category was derived simi- the data used for analysis. The most important of those lim-
larly in accordance with the revision of the rating scales itations consider residuals which must have normal distribu-
of the DRASTIC parameters. Namely, the mean nitrates con- tion and constant variance. If a linear equation is to be
centration in each land use category was used, reduced in a generated using OLS method with nitrate concentration as
ten-grade scale. For land use categories where no data the independent variable and DRASTIC parameters plus land
Table 1 Original and modified ratings of the seven DRASTIC factors
Depth to ground water Recharge Aquifer Type Soil Type
Range Original Mean Modified Range Original Mean Modified Aquifer Original Mean Modified Soil Original Mean Modified
(m) rating NO
3 rating o (mm) rating NO
3 rating type usual NO
3 mg=L rating type rating NO
3 rating
mg=L mg=L rating mg=L
01.5 10 67.9 10 050 1 50.8 6.3 Holocene 5 66.5 8.5 Clay 1 58.9 9
1.54.5 9 50100 3 65.0 10 Conglomerate 4 17.4 2.1 Clay loam 3 46.2 7.1
4.59 7 100180 6 49.1 5 Karstic 8 78.2 10 Sandy clay 4 14.8 2.1
915 5 180250 8 Pleistocene 7 57.0 7.3 Loam 5 64.9 10
1523 3 51.0 7.5 250+ 9 Marl 6 39.5 5 Sandy Clay 5
2330.5 2 42.6 6.1 Flysch 3 33.4 4.2 Sandy Loam 6 24.0 3.7
30.5+ 1 Silty clay 2 60.6 9.3
Topography Impact of the vadose zone type Conductivity (hydraulic)
Range Original Mean Modified Geological
Original Mean Modified Range Original Mean Modified
slope (%) rating NO
3 mg=L rating formation usual NO
3 mg=L rating (m/day) rating NO
3 mg=L rating
02 10 64.6 10 Holocene deposits 8 66.5 8.4 0.011.3 1 41.8 6.1
26 9 Conglomerate 6 17.4 2.1 1.33.9 2 56.3 8.3
612 5 34.1 5.3 Flysch 3 33.4 4.2 3.98.6 4
1218 3 20.4 3.1 Tyrrhenian sea terrases 6 38.8 4.8 8.613 6 67.3 10
18+ 1 Limestone 6 78.2 10 1324.2 8 17.4 2.5
Development and testing of three hybrid methods for the assessment of aquifer vulnerability

Marl 2 39.5 5 24.2+ 10

Pleistocene deposits 6 63.5 8
296 A.K. Antonakos, N.J. Lambrakis

Table 2 Original and modified factor weights and correlation coefficients of the factors with the nitrates concentration
Drastic factors Original Spearmans q Kendalls s Modified factor
weight coefficient coefficient weight (derived from coefficients)
Depth to ground water 5 0.34* 0.19* 3.5
Recharge 4 0.05 0.01
Aquifer type 3 0.39* 0.22* 3.8
Soil type 2 0.00 0.02
Topography 1 0.47* 0.28* 5
Impact of the vadose zone type 5 0.35* 0.18* 3.5

Conductivity (hydraulic) 3 0.08 0.03
Land use 0.33* 0.24* 4
p < 0.05.

probabilities P of a binary variable into a continuous re-
Table 3 Land use ratings
sponse variable. The transformed response is predicted
Landuse type Mean NO3 Rating from one or more explanatory variables, and subsequently
concentration retransformed back to a value between 0 and 1.
Coniferous forest 15.9 1 The equation produced from a logistic regression proce-
dure has the general form

Broad leaved forest 1
Mixed forest 1
eb0 b1 X 1 bn X n
Transitional woodland/shrub 17.1 2 P 3
1 eb0 b1 X 1 bn X n
Principally agricultural land 26.5 3
Sclerophylous vegetation 32.0 4 For the computation of slope coefficients, a more gen-
Mineral extraction sites 4 eral method than ordinary least squares, valid for both bin-
Natural grassland 5 ary and continuous variables as input data, the Maximum
Non-irrigated arrable land 5 Likelihood Estimation (MLE), is used. Maximum Likelihood

Pastures 5 optimizes the likelihood that the observed data would be

Olive groves 41.7 6 produced from a given set of slopes. It is an iterative proce-
Road and rail networks 50.9 7 dure available in the more complex statistical software
packages. A function called the log likelihood (l) of the

Fruit trees 53.4 8

Sport and leisure facilities 8 overall regression model is written as
Complex cultivations 67.7 9 X
Vineyards 67.2 9 l fy i  lnPi  1  y i  ln1  Pi g 4
Discontinuous urban fabric 72.0 10 i1

where yi are the 1, n binary observations and P are the pre-

dicted probabilities. The log of either P or 1  P will be neg-
use as dependent variables, then those variables must be in ative and therefore l is a negative number which is

continuous or at least interval scale. The only way to ex- maximized by iteratively substituting estimates of P derived
press discrete variables like aquifer type, vadose zone type, from estimates of slopes and intersect. The log likelihood
soil type and land use type is to use their DRASTIC ratings may be alternately reported as the positive number G, the
which have an interval scale. 2 log likelihood, which is minimized by the MLE procedure.

Using the DRASTIC parameters plus land use in a multiple An overall test of whether a logistic regression model fits
regression analysis for the study area revealed that residuals the observed data better than an intercept-only model

did not satisfy the limitation of normality as it can be seen (where all slopes bi = 0), analogous to the overall F test in
from the normal probability plot of residuals and the Shap- multiple regression, is given by the overall likelihood ratio
iro-Wilk W statistic (W = 0.859, p = 0.0000) (Shapiro et al., (L):
1968). For this reason an alternative regression model suit-

L G0  G 5
able for the study area data, known as logistic regression
was used (Helsel and Hirsch, 1992). For the evaluation of where G0 is 2 log likelihood of the intercept only model
this method the independent variable must have a binary and G is the 2 log likelihood of the tested model.
form. Continuous parameters like nitrate concentration To compare nested logistic regression models (one model
can be transformed to binary by the use of a threshold. Val- is a more complex version of the other), similar to the par-
ues above that threshold are considered as presence (1) and tial F tests in OLS regression, the test statistic is the partial
below that threshold as absence (0). The threshold value likelihood ratio LP:
used for this study was 50 mg/L. This value was chosen be- LP Gc  Gs 6
cause it has a conventional meaning (potable limit) and be-
cause it divides the dataset in to two almost equal subsets where Gc is the 2 log likelihood for the more complex mod-
(109115). Logistic regression transforms the estimated el, and Gs is the 2 log likelihood for the simpler model.
Development and testing of three hybrid methods for the assessment of aquifer vulnerability 297


Figure 4 Distribution maps for the study area: (a) distribution of specific vulnerability (pollution risk) produced by the modified
DRASTIC method; (b) distribution of probability of nitrates exceeding the value of 50 mg/L (pollution risk) generated by the logistic

regression method; (c) distribution of probability of nitrates exceeding the value of 50 mg/L generated by the indication kriging
procedure; (d) distribution of probability of nitrates exceeding the value of 50 mg/L (pollution risk) generated by the weights of
evidence method.

Another test to compare nested and especially non- concentration and therefore will be included in the logistic
nested logistic regression models, where partial likelihood regression model. They are the same parameters that were
ratios are not appropriate, is the Akaikes Information Crite- included in the final modification of the DRASTIC model as it

rion (AIC) (Akaike, 1973). AIC includes a measure of model was decided based on Spearmans q and Kendalls s correla-
error (l) and a penalty for additional variables. tion coefficients (Kendall, 1975). This is an additional evi-
dence that those parameters are really meaningful for
AIC l k 7
aquifer vulnerability assessment.

where l is the log likelihood and k is the number of explan- For the selection of the best combination of the five sig-
atory variables. Better models are those with small AIC. nificantly related parameters, all possible subsets (nested

In the present study, for the evaluation of logistic regres- models) were compared based on their log-likelihood ratio
sion, the seven parameters used by the DRASTIC model plus and the Akaikes Information Criterion (AIC). Results for
the land use were used as independent variables. The the five more favourable models based on the above men-
choices of these parameters made the results of logistic tioned criteria are presented in Table 5. Among those five

regression model directly comparable to those of the mod- models, the one containing all five parameters was chosen
ified DRASTIC model and maintain the original physical base because it has the better (smaller) log-likelihood ratio (G)
of vulnerability assessment. Individual (univariate) relations and a relatively small deference in AIC criterion with the
between those eight parameters and binary form of nitrate model containing the parameters, Depth to groundwater,
concentration were investigated using logistic regression Topography (slope) and Land use which is the one with the
(log-likelihood ratio and Walds statistics) (Wald, 1945) in smallest AIC criterion. Another reason to maintain all five
order to determine which variables were significantly re- parameters, besides statistical tests, is to insure that
lated. Table 4 summarizes the results of this analysis. As parameters which have been proven to have an important
it is shown only five out of eight parameters, namely, Depth effect on aquifer vulnerability will not be excluded.
to groundwater, Aquifre type, Topography (slope), Vadose Using the estimates produced by the MLE procedure for
zone type and Land use, are significantly related to nitrate those five parameters, we conclude to the following equa-
298 A.K. Antonakos, N.J. Lambrakis

Table 4 Log-likelihood and Walt statistic values for the parameters used for pollution risk assessment
Log-likelihood v2 p-Value Wald t p-Value
Intersept 155.18
Depth to ground water 148.77 12.821 0.0003 12.10 0.0005
Recharge 155.18 0.009 0.9256 0.01 0.9256
Aquifer media 147.07 16.228 0.0001 14.93 0.0001
Soil media 155.00 0.360 0.5486 0.36 0.5490
Topography 138.11 34.146 0.0000 22.05 0.0000
Impact of the vadose zone media 148.71 12.959 0.0003 11.77 0.0006

Conductivity (hydraulic) 155.12 0.125 0.7240 0.12 0.7241
Land use 143.30 23.768 0.0000 20.12 0.0000

Table 5 Values for the G and AIC statistics for the five preferable logistic regression subsets of parameters
Model definition Degrees of freedom G v2 p-Value AIC v2 p-Value
DATIL 5 265.83 44.54 0.00 277.83 44.54 0.00
DATL 4 266.35 44.02 0.00 276.35 44.02 0.00
DTL 3 267.06 43.31 0.00 275.06 43.31 0.00
ATL 3 267.93 42.44 0.00 275.93 42.44 0.00

TL 2 269.44 40.93 0.00 275.44 40.93 0.00
D is depth to groundwater, A is the aquifer type, T is the topography (surface slope), I is the vadose zone type L is the land use type, G the
2 log-likelihood and AIC the Akaikes criterion.
tion for the estimation of the possibility that nitrate con- where m(h) is the number of pairs of samples separated by
centrations will exceed 50 mg/L: the lag distance h. For the needs of the indicator kriging

interpolation, a theoretical model must be fitted to the

P 8 experimental data semivariogram. The theoretical model
1 e5:160:067D0:0426A0:192T0:225I0:279L chosen for the transformed nitrate concentration, based
where D is the depth to groundwater, A the aquifer type, T on a least squares approach, was the spherical model

the topography (surface slope), I the vadose zone type and L (range = 3000 and sill = 0.12) with a nugget effect of 0.12,
the land use rating. as shown in Fig. 5. Using that theoretical semivariogram
By the use of this equation and the map calculator func-
tion of ArcGIS software,the distribution of the possibility
that nitrates concentration exceeds 50 mg/L was con-
structed (in raster format) (Fig. 4b). To examine the corre-
lation between logistic regression model predictions and

actual nitrates occurrence,it is best not to use actual ni-

trate concentration at each sample point but the probability
of exceeding the threshold of 50 mg/L as it can be esti-
mated for each point of the study area by the use of indica-

tor kriging.
Instead of the actual value of a parameter indicator kri-
ging uses an indicator binary parameter created using a

threshold as follows:

1 if zx P zc
xx 9

0 otherwise

where x(x) is the indicator parameter, z(x) is the initial con-

tinuous parameter (nitrate concentration) and zc is the
threshold value (50 mg/L).
Similar to simple kriging the expected semivariances can
be estimated from indicator data as follows (Webster and
Oliver, 2001; Goovaerts, 1997):

Xmh Figure 5 Semivariogram of the indicator parameter used for

czxc  fxx i ; zc  xx i h; zc g2 10 the interpolation of the probability of nitrates exceeding the
2  mh i1 value of 50 mg/L.
Development and testing of three hybrid methods for the assessment of aquifer vulnerability 299

and ArcGIS Geostatistical analyst extension, the distribution

of nitrates probability exceeding 50 mg/L was created (in
raster format) (Fig. 4c).
Correlation between logistic regression probability and
probability produced by indicator kriging was calculated
for the 244 sample points with a Spearmans r correlation
factor of 0.69 (Fig. 6b) and for the entire study area using
the Spearmans r correlation coefficient between all unit
cells of the two distributions in raster format (Bonham-Car-
ter, 1994), which was 0.62.

Weights of evidence

Weights of evidence is a quantitative method for combin-

ing evidence in support of a hypothesis. The method was

originally developed for a nonspatial application in medical
diagnosis. The first spatial application of Weights of evi-
dence was for mineral potential mapping with GIS (Asadi
and Hale, 1999; Bonham-Carter et al., 1988). Lately
Weights of evidence was used for environmental applica-
tions and specifically for aquifer vulnerability assessment
(Alberti et al., 2001; Baker et al., 2002).

The weights of evidence is the log-linear version of the
general Bayesian model which is based on the idea of prior
(unconditional) and posterior (conditional) probability. In
a raster based approach if the area of the unit cell is u
and the area of the base map (T) is A(T), then A(T)/
u = N(T) is the area of the base map in unit cells. The num-
ber of training points (wells with nitrate concentration
above 50 mg/L) within the base map is denoted as N(D)

which is always an integer number, and independent of u.

Suppose an indicator pattern, used for prediction of points
with nitrate concentration above 50 mg/L, is denoted by

B, then A(B) is the area where B is present and A(B)/

u = N(B) the same area expressed in unit cells. Similarly
NB is the area expressed in unit cells where B is absent.
The prior probability P(D) per unit area that the region occu-
pied by the study area containing a deposit (a point where
nitrate concentration is above 50 mg/L) is assumed to be
constant equal to the training points density:

PD 11
The posterior probability of a deposit given the presence
of an indicator pattern will either increase or decrease (as
compared to the prior probability). Given the presence of

an evidential theme B, the posterior probability, P(DjB),

can be calculated from the prior probability, P(D), by

PDjB PD  12
A similar expression can be derived for the posterior

probability of a deposit occurring given the absence of B

Figure 6 Scatter diagram for the 224 ample points of the
study area between: (a) specific vulnerability (pollution risk) PBjD
PDjB PD  13
produced by the modified DRASTIC method and groundwater PB
nitrates concentration (logarithmically transformed); (b) prob- Using the odds form, the logit transformation and alge-
ability of nitrates exceeding the value of 50 mg/L generated by braic manipulations, we can obtain an equation giving the
the logistic regression method and probability of nitrates probability of a deposit occurring given the presence of an
exceeding the value of 50 mg/L generated by the indication indicator pattern B in logit form: !
kriging procedure; (c) probability of nitrates exceeding the PBjD
value of 50 mg/L generated by the weights of evidence method logitDjB logitD logit ) logitDjB
and probability of nitrates exceeding the value of 50 mg/L
generated by the indication kriging procedure. logitD W 14
300 A.K. Antonakos, N.J. Lambrakis

Similar algebraic manipulations lead to logit of odds for model plus the land use factor are statistically correlated,
the conditional probability of D given the absence of the these factors were included in the weights of evidence
indicator pattern B: model as well.
! Another important consideration for the correct applica-
PBjD tion of weights of evidence is conditional independence (CI)
logitDjB logitD logit ) logitDjB
PBjD that is assumed to exist when combining two or more maps
logitD W  15 with a Bayesian model. CI is always violated to some degree
and the question is what degree of violation is acceptable.
If we assume that we have n indicator patterns, the CI can be checked with statistical tests in two ways. The
above equations take the form: first method involves testing pairwise CI between all possi-

n ble pairings of the binary maps being combined using the
logitDjB1 \ B2 \ . . . Bn logitD W 16 v2 independence statistical test between predicted and ob-
i1 served number of deposits. Multiclass maps containing n
and number of classes can be encountered as n binary maps with
each class being present in each binary map, but they pro-

duce a huge number of possible pairs making the method
logitDjB1 \ B2 \ . . . Bn logitD W 17
practically not applicable for multiclass maps. The second
method involves a simple overall statistical test based on
Weights W+ and W are estimated from the measured the ratio of total number of observed and predicted depos-
association between known points where nitrate concentra- its. Values over 0.85 may indicate a problem. A more sophis-
tion is above 50 mg/L and the values on the maps to be used ticated overall independence test proposed by Agterberg
as predictors. The hypothesis is then repeatedly evaluated and Cheng (2002) uses one tail v2 statistical test for the

for all possible locations on the map using the calculated ratio:
weights, producing a pollution potential map in which the NDcalc  NDobs
evidence from several map layers is combined. 18
For the evaluation of weights of evidence in the study
area, a model in the form of an extension for ArcGIS soft- where N(D) is the number of observed deposits, N(D)calc the
ware, called ArcSDM (Kemp et al., 2001; Sawatzky et al., number of predicted deposits, and s[N(D)calc] the standard
2004), was used. The ArcSDM model can be applied to evi- deviation of N(D)calc. The number of predicted deposits
dential themes (indicator patterns) with binary (presence/ can be determined by adding together the product of the

absence) classes, or to multi-class maps. Binary evidence area in unit cells N(A), times the posterior probability P
is relatively simple to interpret and produce weights with for all polygons (or pixels in a raster based approach) on
smaller variances, and is therefore more stable. Neverthe- the map, thus

less most datasets used for vulnerability assessment are

multi class or continuous. For example geological maps, X
NDcalc P k  NAk 19
even after they have been simplified, usually comprise sev- k1
eral units and parameters like groundwater depth or aquifer
recharge are continuous and the only possibility is to group After conducting the overall independence test for the
their values in several classes. model containing the five aforementioned parameters, a ra-
Weights calculated for a small number of classes are tio of observed to predicted number of deposits with a value
more robust than the ones calculated using a large number of 0.695 was obtained indicating conditional dependency

of classes, and this is particularly critical when a relatively while Agterberg and Chung test also indicated that condi-
small number of points are in the training data. On the other tional independency hypothesis should be rejected. The
hand, including more classes may reflect the real picture of two parameters having greater spatial dependency are
favourable or unfavourable evidence with more precision. those of vadose zone type and aquifer type as they are both

Considering the above comments, it may be assumed that resulted from the geological map of the study area. Conse-
DRASTIC classification of the parameters used for aquifer quently, the parameter among those two with the smallest

vulnerability assessment must be satisfactory for the appli- influence (based on correlation factor), namely vadose zone
cation of the weights of evidence model. Furthermore, the type, was decided to be excluded from the model. After the
classification arisen after the first step modification of exclusion of the vadose zone parameter, the observed to
DRASTIC method due to the fact that classes for continuous predicted number ratio became 0.87 indicating a small but

variables are minimized to those statistically independent acceptable violation of CI and the Agterberg and Chung test
must be even more suitable. Land use parameter was also indicated that conditional independency hypothesis
grouped into seven classes according to the rating of each should not be rejected.
original class and flysch aquifer type was grouped with con- W+, W and weight difference C for all classes of the four
glomerates aquifer due to the lack of training points in the parameters participating in the final weights of evidence
flysch aquifer type which takes up a very small part of the model are illustrated in Table 6. Large values of C indicate
study area namely 3 km2. The grouping of the two aquifer greater influence of the specific class to model results and
types was based on the similarity of their original ratings. small values of C variance indicate more reliable results
Based on the fact that both Spearmans r correlation factor for the specific class.
and log-likelihood ratios of simple logistic regression indi- Correlation between the response theme of posterior
cate that only four (out of seven) factors of the DRASTIC probability resulting from weights of evidence model
Development and testing of three hybrid methods for the assessment of aquifer vulnerability 301

Table 6 Values of W+, W, C and their variances used for the weights of evidence model
Class Area (km2) Training points W+ s(W+) W s(W) C s(C)
Depth to ground water
015 m 532.0 23 1.111 0.213 0.788 0.123 1.899 0.246
1523 m 162.3 19 0.033 0.244 0.007 0.113 0.040 0.269
>23 m 208.5 67 1.242 0.148 0.758 0.159 2.000 0.218

Aquifer type
Conglomerate aquifers + Flysch aquifer 128.2 1 2.835 1.004 0.161 0.104 2.995 1.009

Marl aquifer 335.3 10 1.496 0.321 0.430 0.111 1.926 0.340
Pleistocene aquifers 107.5 25 0.786 0.228 0.150 0.115 0.936 0.256
Holocene aquifers 189.1 72 1.500 0.150 0.921 0.169 2.421 0.226
Karstic Aquifer 142.5 1 2.970 1.004 0.188 0.104 3.158 1.009

06 374.9 4 2.545 0.503 0.593 0.109 3.139 0.514
612 166.7 3 2.017 0.583 0.204 0.105 2.221 0.592
>12 360.8 102 1.053 0.117 2.350 0.380 3.403 0.398

Land use
Coniferous forest + broad leaved 356.6 3 1.776 0.585 0.150 0.105 1.926 0.594
forest + mixed forest + transitional

woodland shrub + land principally
occupied by agriculture
Schlerophylous vegetation + mineral 99.9 12 0.088 0.308 0.011 0.109 0.099 0.326
extraction sites
Natural grassland + non-irrigated 119.0 10 0.484 0.330 0.065 0.108 0.549 0.348
arrable land + pastures
Olive groves 26.9 1 1.354 1.019 0.027 0.103 1.381 1.024
Fruit trees + sport and leisure facilities 193.3 73 1.407 0.148 0.929 0.172 2.336 0.227

Complex cultivations + vineyards 8.1 3 1.394 0.730 0.021 0.104 1.415 0.738
Discontinuous urban fabric 37.1 7 0.449 0.420 0.025 0.106 0.474 0.433
W logit PBjD .

W  logit PBjD .
C = W+  W.
s = variance.

(Fig. 4d) with the probability of nitrate concentration background for the creation of hybrid methods for the
exceeding the value of 50 mg/L which was obtained from assessment of pollution risk of an aquifer if a hydrochem-
indication kriging, as it was discussed in the previous para- ical database from samples points of that aquifer is

graph, was tested based on Spearmans r factor. The value available.

of r was 0.68 for the 224 sample points, slightly higher than The utilization of simple statistical quantities like arith-
those of modified DRASTIC methodology and comparable to metic mean or simple statistical tests like tests of depen-
the one obtained from logistic regression. However, the cor- dency and correlation between parameters used as

responding r factor for the entire study area was signifi- predictors of aquifer pollution risk and hydrochemical
cantly smaller, namely 0.56. The significant difference parameters can lead to DRASTIC method modifications,

between the two correlation factors denotes that a weight which may predict aquifer pollution risk more accurately
of evidence method probably produces poor predictions in than the original model.
areas where there are no available training points. As it More complicated statistical methods like logistic regres-
can be seen from the scatter diagram of Fig. 6c, between sion or weights of evidence can make use of DRASTIC param-

posterior probability resulted from weights of evidence eters, classification and rating for the production of
model with the probability of nitrate concentration exceed- pollution risk distribution with the form of probability of
ing the value of 50 mg/L, which was obtained from indica- exceeding a certain pollutant (i.e. nitrates) value achieving
tion kriging for the 224 sample points. There is a gathering fair correlation with obtained values of the specific
of posterior probabilities to edge values probably reflecting pollutant.
the binary nature of the weights of evidence model. Table 7 demonstrates the Pearsons r correlation factors
between pollution risk estimated from the three above
Conclusionsdiscussion developed hybrid methods with the nitrates concentration
for the 224 sample points as well as for the entire distribu-
DRASTIC model originally used for intrinsic aquifer vulner- tion of these parameters for the whole extent of the study
ability assessment can be used as an initial theoretical area.
302 A.K. Antonakos, N.J. Lambrakis

Table 7 Pearsons r correlation factors between estimated values of aquifer pollution risk and actual nitrates occurrence for
the three methods used for pollution risk assessment
Pollution risk model definition Pearson (r) correlation Pearson (r) correlation
factor (sample points) factor (entire distribution)
Modified DRASTIC approach (Panagopoulos et al., 2006) 0.64 0.65
Logistic regression model 0.69 0.62
Weights of evidence model 0.68 0.56

As it can be seen the more complicated statistical meth- Baker, A.E., Cichon, J.R., Arthur, J.D., and Raines, G.L., 2002.
ods provide a higher correlation factor than the method pro- Florida vulnerability assessment [abs.] in Abstracts with
posed by Panagopoulos et al., but a significantly smaller one Programs Geological Society of America 2002 Annual

for the entire distribution. That piece of evidence can be Meeting, Denver. CO, Oct. 2730, 2002: Denver, CO, 34,
attributed to the fact that both logistic regression and
Bonham-Carter, G.F., Agterberg, F.P., Wright, D.F., 1988. Integra-
weights of evidence methods are clearly data driven and tion of geological datasets for gold exploration in Nova Scotia.
produce relatively poor estimates in areas where few or Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing 54 (11),
no sample points exist. On the other hand, Panagopoulos 15851592.
et al.s method preserving more of the original DRASTIC Bonham-Carter, G.F., 1994. Geographic Information Systems for
model subjectivity provides more reliable results in areas Geoscientists. Pergamon, New York.

with missing data points. Bossard, M., Feranec, J., Otahel, J., 2000. The revised and
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