Geo-Environmental Effect of Landfill Site, Southeast of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Arabian Journal of GeosciencesArabian Journal of Geosciences, Published Online 01 February 2012

Oumar Allafouza Loni, M. Tahir Hussein and Ayman M. Alrehaili

“Landfilled wastes manifest slow decomposition, producing emanation of gases, and outflow of leachate. Waste mass shows various chemical reactions and complex evolutions that occur under the influence of natural agents, as rain and microorganisms. These reactions lead to biological, physical, and chemical transformations of wastes. The intensity of the phenomenon is related to the air and the humidity. These factors originate from the initial composition of the solid waste, the operating mode of the landfill, and the geological and hydrogeological conditions. Leachate is considered a major source of groundwater pollution. It has a complex nature; it typically contains high concentrations of chemical hazardous including heavy metals, chemical compounds that may severely pollute the environment. These challenges are faced all over the world by environment protection agencies and waste management bodies. The challenge differs according to the specific situation of the site, the climatic, environmental, and geological factors. The international literature is rich with studies in this concern. Each country or region of the world has its own legislation and laws governing waste management, e.g., the European Commission Legislation, the US Environmental Agency, and so forth. The main objective of this study is to shed light on the environmental consequences of a landfill site located in the southeast of Riyadh City, Saudi Arabia. It constitutes a peculiar case because of its situation, its exploitation mode, and nature of buried wastes. The study made use of satellite MSS, TM, ETM and SPOT image 2007, and Digital Elevation Model (DEM), respectively. Geological, morphological, hydrological, hydrochemical, and detailed drainage analyses were performed. Records of meteorological stations were also used in this study. The satellite images illustrate the evolution of the site through time since its start in the 1990s of the twentieth century. The main geological units outcropping in the area are the Sulaiy Formation, the Yamama Formation, Khabra deposits, floodplain deposits, alluvium, and sheet gravel. Drainage analyses shows a dendritic nature for the network, a total area of 2,113 km2, basin slope of 0.016, perimeter of 430 × 103, and a mean elevation of 635 m. Annual rainfall is around 100 mm, evapotranspiration is about 2,900 mm, wind speed averages at 5.1 km/h, and runoff peak is within 2.7–4.7 m3/s. A plume of total dissolved solids and nitrates was observed to initiate from the landfill site. Heavy metal concentration confirms the same result. Planners, environmentalists, decision makers, and other interest groups can use the findings of this study for environmental management of the landfill and protection of the downstream part of the Sulaiy tributary from leachate contamination. The results indicate the importance of monitoring landfills through the combined use of ground and satellite monitoring.”