The groundwater quality of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao: a hydrogeochemical study

The Groundwater resources on the Caribbean Islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao are limited and of poor quality. The groundwater of the islands is brackish, due to both seawater mixing and the semi-arid climate of the islands. Two hundred and thirty water samples were collected to relate chemical variations in the groundwater of the three islands to the underlying differences in geology, and to define the natural versus anthropogenic influences. Both the chemical and isotopic (δ180, δD, and δ37Cl) compositions of samples were determined.

Several geochemical processes are recognised in the chemistry of the groundwater samples. The most important processes are calcite dissolution, cation exchange, silicate weathering and potassium fixation. In (sub)urban areas anthropogenic influences affect the groundwater quality: high nitrate concentrations were measured. Infiltrating domestic and agricultural (waste)water replenishes the aquifer, and has a desalinization effect on the groundwater quality. This phenomenon is primarily seen on Curaçao, the most populated island.

Oxygen and hydrogen isotopie compositions of groundwaters from Curaçao and Bonaire show that the samples are either meteoric water, or are affected by evaporation or seawater mixing. No distinction could be made between the last two processes. Only a few samples were measured for the Cl-isotope composition; all showed that no physical processes have taken place.

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