The site lies between the latitudes 36.74°–36.92°N and the longitudes 34.70°–34.96°E and is naturally bounded by the Deliçay River, Tarsus River, and the Mediterranean Sea on the west, east, and south, respectively, covering an area of 234 km². Nearly 84% of this area is devoted to agricultural activities (e.g., open field farms, greenhouses, and citrus orchards). There are several small villages and towns scattered throughout the area with a total population of about 50,000 inhabitants (2011 census).


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Tarsus 36.813683, 34.823914 Tarsus aquifer

The site has an undulating topography (with elevations between 0 and 30 m a.s.l), due to the presence of sand dunes along the coast. The climate is typically Mediterranean, characterized by hot and dry summers (mean annual temperature is around 18 °C), and relatively mild and rainy winters (mean annual rainfall is 609.5 mm). In the area, groundwater derived from the underlying Quaternary–Recent fluvio-deltaic coastal aquifer is heavily relied upon for agricultural, industrial and domestic water demands. From the lithologic well logs, it can be inferred that the aquifers in the coastal plain are mostly confined or semi-confined in nature due to the presence of thick (20–100 m) clay–silt layers or lenses.

Aquifer extension 234 km²
Total exploitation 400 L/s (estimated)
Water use
  • irrigation
  • industrial and domestic (potable) water needs.
Major challenges
  • salinization of groundwater (seawater intrusion and evaporite salts)
  • pollution from agricultural, industrial and domestic sources
Land use
  • 196.73 km² of cultivated land
  • 25.99 km² forest
  • 6.64 km² industrial area
  • 3.76 km² urban area
  • 0.88 km² water bodies.
Cities supplied
  • 50000 inhabitants
  • Major towns: Kazanlı and Adanalıoğlu

Two major salinization sources are delineated at the site, including seawater intrusion and dissolution of evaporitic series related to the Messinian Salinity Crisis. Groundwater resources of the Tarsus coastal plain are being exploited heavily and they are under a serious threat from nonpoint source pollution from the agricultural land use practices and saltwater intrusion due to overexploitation.