University of Oulu

Kitterød, N.-O., Kværner, J., Aagaard, P., Arustienė, J., Bikše, J., Dagestad, A., Gundersen, P., Hansen, B., Hjartarson, Á., Karro, E., Klavins, M., Marandi, A., Radienė, R., Retike, I., Rossi, P. M., & Thorling, L. (2022). Hydrogeology and groundwater quality in the Nordic and Baltic countries. Hydrology Research, 53(7), 958–982.

Hydrogeology and groundwater quality in the Nordic and Baltic countries

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Author: Kitterød, Nils-Otto1; Kværner, Jens2; Aagaard, Per3;
Organizations: 1Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, P.O. Box 5003, N-1432 Ås, Norway
2Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, Post Box 115, NO-1431 Ås, Norway
3Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1047 Blindern, Oslo 0316, Norway
4Department of Hydrogeoology, Lithuanian Geological Survey under The Ministry of Environment, S. Konarskio 35, Vilnius 03100, Lithuania
5Faculty of Geography and Earth Sciences, University of Latvia, Jelgavas Street 1, Riga LV-1004, Latvia
6Geological Survey of Norway, P.O. Box 6315 Torgarden, Trondheim NO-7491, Norway
7Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland – GEUS, Universitetsbyen 81, bygning 1872, Århus C 8000, Denmark
8Iceland GeoSurvey, Urðarteigi 8, Kópavogi 203, Iceland
9Department of Geology, Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, University of Tartu, Ravila 14A, Tartu 50411, Estonia
10Geological Survey of Estonia, F.R. Kreutzwaldi 5, Rakvere 44314, Estonia
11Water, Energy and Environmental Engineering Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: IWA Publishing, 2022
Publish Date: 2023-02-14


Groundwater utilization and groundwater quality vary in the Baltic and Nordic countries mainly because of different geological settings. Based on the geology, the countries were treated in the following three groups: (1) Fennoscandian countries (Finland, Sweden, and Norway), (2) Denmark and Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania), and (3) Iceland. Most of the utilized groundwater resources are taken from Quaternary deposits, but Denmark and the Baltic countries have in addition, important resources in Phanerozoic rocks. The groundwater quality reflects the residence time of water in the subsurface and the chemical composition of the geological formations. Concentrations of ions in the Fennoscandian bedrock are elevated compared to Iceland, but lower than in Denmark and the Baltic countries. Compared to groundwater in the bedrock, groundwater in Quaternary deposits has usually lower concentrations of dissolved minerals. Unconfined Quaternary aquifers are vulnerable to contamination. Examples from Denmark and the Baltic countries illustrate challenges and successful effects of mitigation strategies for such aquifers related to agricultural application and management of nitrogen. Confined and deeper groundwater is better protected against anthropogenic contamination, but water quality may be affected by harmful compounds caused by geogenic processes (viz, sulfide, arsenic, fluoride, and radon).

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Series: Hydrology research
ISSN: 1998-9563
ISSN-E: 2224-7955
ISSN-L: 1998-9563
Volume: 53
Issue: 7
Pages: 958 - 982
DOI: 10.2166/nh.2022.018
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1171 Geosciences
1172 Environmental sciences
218 Environmental engineering
Dataset Reference: All relevant data are included in the paper or its Supplementary Information.
Copyright information: © 2022 The Authors. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC BY 4.0), which permits copying, adaptation and redistribution, provided the original work is properly cited (