Use of Multivariate Statistical Analysis of Hydrochemical Data for the Identification of the Geochemical Processes in the Tirana-Fushe Kuqe Alluvial Aquifer, North-Western Albania
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Mathematical Engineering Department, Faculty of Mathematics and Physics Engineering, Polytechnic University of Tirana, Sulejman Delvina St., Tirana, Albania
Earth Sciences Departament, Faculty of Geology and Mining, Polytechnic University of Tirana, Street Elbasani, Tirana, Albania
EU Support to Integrated Water Management in Albania Project, Street Pjeter Budi, Tirana, Albania
Arjan Beqiraj   

Earth Sciences Departament, Faculty of Geology and Mining, Polytechnic University of Tirana, Street Elbasani, Tirana, Albania
J. Ecol. Eng. 2022; 23(8):327–340
During the research, 71 groundwater samples were collected over a 300 km2 area of Tirana-Fushe Kuqe alluvial aquifer extension (central-western Albania) and subsequently analyzed for 11 parameters (pH, K+, Na+, Ca2+, Mg2+, HCO3-, Cl-, SO42-, NO3-, TH and TDS). Both geochemical conventional (Piper and Chadha diagrams) methods of groundwater classification and multivariate statistical (principal components analysis – PCA and hierarchical cluster analysis – HCA) methods were applied to the dataset to evidence the geochemical processes controlling groundwater geochemistry evaluation through the aquifer. The conventional geochemical methods revealed four (G1-G4) hydrochemical groups where the dominant group is G2 the samples of which are from unconfined to semiconfined recharge zone and the majority of them have Ca-Mg-HCO3 groundwater. Group G3 includes the samples from the confined coastal aquifer having Na-Cl groundwater. Group G1 includes three groundwater samples of Ca-Mg-SO4 from the central part of the aquifer, while group G4, the samples of which are spatially located between G3 and G2 zones, has Na-HCO3 groundwater. The first four components of the PCA account for 85.35% of the total variance. Component PC1 is characterized by very high positive loadings of TH, Ca2+, and Mg2+, suggesting the importance of dissolution processes in the aquifer recharge zone. Component PC2 is characterized by very high positive loadings in Na+, K+, and Cl- and moderate to high loadings of TDS, revealing the involvement of seawater intrusion and diffusion from clay layers. On the basis of their variable loadings, the first two components are defined as the “hardness” and “salinity”, respectively. The HCA produced four geochemically distinct clusters, C1–C4. The samples of cluster C1 are from the coastal confined aquifer and their groundwater belongs to the Na-Cl type. The samples from cluster C2 are located in the south and east recharge areas and most of them have Ca–Mg–HCO3 groundwater, while the samples from cluster C3, which are located in the northeastern recharge zone, have Mg-Ca–HCO3 groundwater. Finally, cluster C4 includes two groundwater subgroups having Na-Cl-HCO3 and Na-Mg-Cl-HCO3 groundwater in the vicinity of cluster C1 as well as Na-HCO3-Cl and Na-Mg-HCO3-Cl groundwater next to cluster C2 and C3.