Hydrogeology and groundwater quality in the Nordic and Baltic countries

Nils Otto Kitterød, Jens Kværner, Per Aagaard, Jurga Arustiene, Jānis Bikše, Atle Dagestad, Pål Gundersen, Birgitte Hansen, Árni Hjartarson, Enn Karro, Maris Klavins, Andres Marandi, Rasa Radiene, Inga Retike, Pekka M. Rossi, Lærke Thorling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


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).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)958-982
Number of pages25
JournalHydrology Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022


  • Baltic and Nordic countries
  • geological framework
  • groundwater pollution
  • groundwater quality
  • groundwater utilization

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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