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Introduction

 

The island of Cyprus has numerous aquifers, which provide water to its inhabitants for domestic use and irrigation through springs, wells and boreholes. The formation of these aquifers has resulted from a combination of geological factors and processes throughout the geological evolution of the island. Permeable formations, which nowadays constitute aquifers, were formed at various geological times from the Permian to the present. However, the most decisive geological events responsible for the present day situation appear to have taken place during the Pleistocene epoch, with the uplift of Cyprus and the formation of the island as we know it today. During this epoch, intense erosion of the uplifted masses of Troodos and Pentadaktylos produced thick accumulations of arenaceous deposits in the Mesaoria region and elsewhere, which now make important aquifers. Many older permeable formations were lifted above sea level and progressively became aquiferous through various geological processes, including serpentinisation, fracturing and solution.

 

Upper Tertiary sandstones and calcarenites and older limestones have been exploited for hundreds of years. The ancient city of Salamis obtained its water from Kythrea by means of an aqueduct 40 km long. The chains of wells and aqueducts constructed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries for the water supply of Nicosia and Larnaca are also quite well known.

 

The first scientific study of the aquifers of Cyprus was initiated by the British in the late 19th century and the first drilling was carried out at the beginning of the 20th century. Ever since, thousands of boreholes have been drilled and all of the aquifers of Cyprus have been exploited intensively, in particular during the second half of the 20th century. A milestone in the study of the aquifers of Cyprus can be considered in the work carried out by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) between 1963 and 1969. Work carried out by the government and in particular by the Geological Survey and Water Development Departments has also been quite significant. Between 1996 and 1999, the General Directorate of the Mineral Research Institute of Turkey worked on the aquifers in the northern part of Cyprus, drilling new boreholes for potable water supply from the Kyrenia Range and the Morphou aquifer and at other regions, which had been studied for determining other additional groundwater resources.

 

Cyprus has been suffering from water problems due to the irregular rainfall conditions since ancient times. As we know from the “Machera Chronicle”, the lack of water caused problems such as inadequate cultivation conditions while long drought periods forced the island’s people to immigrate to neighbouring countries. Between 1932–1935, 1940–1948 and especially in the 1970s and beginning of the 1990s, the country suffered terrible periods of drought.

 

 

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