Department of Civil Engineering, Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran
Urmia Lake, the second largest hyper-saline lake in the world, has experienced a significant drop in water level during the last decade. This study was designed to examine the water quality of Urmia Lake and to characterize the spatial heterogeneity and temporal changes of the physico-chemical parameters between October 2009 and July 2010. Two spatial interpolation methods, Inverse Distance Weighting (IDW) and Ordinary Kriging (OK), were used and compared with each other to derive the spatial distribution of ionic constituents as well as TDS and density along the lake. Results showed that the main dominant cations and anions in Urmia Lake were Na+, Mg++, K+, Ca++, Cl- , SO4--, and HCO3-, respectively. Although water quality of the lake is homogeneous with depth, it differs between the northern and southern parts. Water quality also varies seasonally, determined by river inflows and the lake bathymetry. Moreover, with the present salinity level, salt precipitation is likely in Urmia Lake and is becoming one of the principal factors determining the distribution of solutes within the lake. This study shows that the combined use of temporal and spatial water quality data improves our understanding of complex, large aquatic systems like Urmia Lake.