Low Carbon Economy, 2010, 1, 18-24
doi:10.4236/lce.2010.11003 Published Online September 2010 (http://www.SciRP.org/journal/lce)
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. LCE
Geothermal Water in Lebanon: An Alternative
Energy Source
Amin Shaban
National Council for Scientific Research, Remote Sensing Center, Beirut, Lebanon.
Email: geoamin@cnrs.edu.lb
Received August 23rd, 2010; revised August 31st, 2010; accept September 6th, 2010.
Recently, demand for energy has been increased worldwide, notably in the view of high economic value and competi-
tion of fossil fuel, as well as the negative impact of fuel consumption through carbon release, and thus the consequences
on human health and environment. Various aspects of energy sources into Earth’s crust have been discovered and util-
ized. Geothermal energy is one aspect of these sources where they have been well pronounced in many countries and
proved to be a potential energy source for the future needs. Lebanon, the country with rare natural energy, the renew-
able energy sources are almost ignored and there is only limited utilization of hydro-power, wind and solar energy,
whilst oil imports occupy a substantial portion for energy use. Yet, geothermal energy has not raised and no concern
has been given to this renewable source. Meanwhile, there are several indicators showing the existence of geothermal
water in different regions in Lebanon. They almost occur where basalt rocks are exposed. This was evidenced whether
from water in drilled wells or from various discharging springs, as well as indications of thermal water was observed
also in many localities along the Lebanese coastal water. This study shows the available information in this respect,
considering the occurrence of geothermal water in Lebanon as an alternative energy source. Thus four major geother-
mal domains were recognized. The study introduces detailed characterization on the existing aspects of geothermal
water and inducing its hydrologic regime and mechanism of groundwater heating. It would be a reconnaissance stage
that may help applying further detailed assessment.
Keywords: Hot Water, Springs, Alternative Source, Lebanon
1. Introduction
Energy has become an utmost need for human life and any
shortage in energy supply will result a serious national
problem, notably with the increase of population size that
accompanied with high standard of living. This in turn
motivated many countries to search for alternative energy
sources other than fossil fuel, which is a depleted source
and often results negative environmental aspects. Re-
cently, the geothermal energy has become one aspect of
these alternatives. Rough estimates indicated that geo-
thermal energy can cover the world’s need of energy for
the next 100000 years [1]. This is well pronounced in the
United States where geothermal energy is supposed to
supply 10% of electricity needs by the year 2050.
Even though, almost everywhere in the upper 10 feet of
the Earth’s surface maintains a nearly constant tempera-
ture between 10°C and 16°C, yet there is higher heat that
released from deep Earth and composing a renewable sort
of energy, which is a clean and sustainable resource that
occurs at depths everywhere beneath the Earth’s surface
and ranges from few meters in certain areas to a few kilo-
meters (5 to 8 km) beneath the Earth’s surface and reaches
down even deeper to the extremely high temperatures of
molten rock called magma.
There are several potential uses for geothermal energy,
but it is mainly used to heat buildings, as well as in gen-
erate electricity. While, the exploitation procedure implies
drilling wells into underground reservoirs. In this regard,
there are several techniques used to tap geothermal sources,
and it mainly involves injecting cold water down into
wells, circulating it through hot fractured rocks, and
drawing off the heated water from another well. Currently,
this technology is still with less commercial benefits. The
existing technology also does not allow recovery of heat
directly from magma, the very deep and powerful source
of geothermal energy.
Lebanon, the Middle Eastern country with relatively
small area (~10400 km2), lacks to local energy sources,
and demand for renewable energy has been exacerbated.
Geothermal Water in Lebanon: An Alternative Energy Source19
For this reason, Lebanon imports around $500 million
worth of fuel annually to generate the electricity needs [2]
and yet there is a shortage in electrical power supply. In
addition, there are no studies to assure the existence of
potential fossil fuel for energy generation, except few
prospects, such as those on uranium [3].
There are several aspects of renewable energy sources
that can be utilized in Lebanon. These are attributed, in a
broad sense, to hydro-power, wind, solar and geothermal
energy. Hydro-power sources have been used in Leba-
non since few decades, such as that in Qaraoun Lake in
the Bekka region, but they neither implemented over
wide geographic areas nor developed to fulfill their
power as an integral source for energy. While, wind and
solar energy are almost applied on limited and local basis,
since they do not follow a strategic plan with wide range
of application. Therefore, oil products are still the prin-
cipal energy source in Lebanon and they compose about
93.5% of energy supply according to obtained estimates
in 2003 (Figure 1).
Yet, there is no concern to the geothermal energy in
Lebanon and studies on this respect are still rare except
brief mentioning the existence of this source in many
articles [2,4,5]. Meanwhile, there are many observations
of natural hot water in different localities on the Lebanese
territory, likewise many other observations on the neigh-
boring countries, such as in Syria and Jordan. However,
no detailed investigation has been done to interpret their
hydrological regime, and then to induce how they can be
There is no hydrological or geophysical investigations
applied in Lebanon in order to verify the existence of
geothermal water. The known observations imply spon-
taneously (naturally) evidenced phenomenon of hot wa-
ter discharge either in springs or water wells. Many of
the known hot water (and sometimes warm water) dis-
charges were existed in places where igneous rocks (al-
most basalt and tuff) are exposed, but this is not always
the case and some of them occur in the proximity of ba-
saltic rocks too.
The major objective of this study is to characterize the
existing geothermal water sources, which are represented
by hot and warm water, with a special emphasis on the
geological and hydrological setting where they exist.
This will help identifying the major geologic elements
governing the flow regime of geothermal water, thus
identifying their hydrologic controls, which help indicat-
ing the existence of new geothermal sources in different
places in Lebanon. This in turn motivates applying fur-
ther studies with detailed investigation, which may lead
to create a strategic plan for geothermal water exploita-
tion in Lebanon.
Figure 1. Primary energy supply in Lebanon in 2003 (ada-
pted from ALMEE, 2005 [6]).
2. Indicators of Geothermal Water
Indicators of geothermal water sources in Lebanon imply
both surface water and groundwater in different localities
and at various levels on/or in the proximity of the basalt
rock exposures. The identified sources were indicated by
inhabitants, as well as they depend on mentions in pre-
vious studies. They can be attributed, in a broad sense, to:
2.1. Springs
In Akkar region, north Lebanon along the Syrian border
where large basaltic rock plateau exposed (Figure 2), there
are several observations for hot/or warm water from sp-
rings and seepages at different localities. Many of them
show low discharge, which is almost less than 1 l/sec;
therefore, most of these springs and seeps were dried as a
result of overexploitation of groundwater, and also due to
the ignorance of these sources by local community. Yet,
one these springs remain and called “AinEsamak” spring.
However, it is totally ignored and has not been properly
utilized. Filed testing shows that the average temperature
of this spring ranges between 50-65°C over various time
2.2. Off-Shore Springs
The hydrologic phenomenon of hot and warm water is
not limited to the terrestrial environment, but also it ex-
tends to the marine environment where some off-shore
hot springs were identified by fishermen along the Leba-
nese coastal zone. These off-shore springs were identi-
fied at three sites, one along the southern coast beside
city of Tyre (33°15'33" & 35°11'32"), and the other two
in the north, adjacent to A’abdeh (34°31'37" & 35°59'07")
and Chekka (34°19'24" & 35°43'21") regions (Figure 2).
The first one (near Tyre) occurs as thermal vents in sea
floor at a distance of about 300 m from the coast and at a
depth of about 30 m. These vents were distributed on an
area of about 800 m. In addition other smaller vents in
the seafloor were observed by fishermen. However, the
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. LCE
20 Geothermal Water in Lebanon: An Alternative Energy Source
Figure 2. Map of Lebanon showing the sites of known geo-
thermal water.
actual temperatures were not estimated.
The other two were springs were detected during an
airborne Thermal Infrared survey when they appear as
dissipated clusters of small bubbles (few centimeters in
diameter) at a distance from the coast [7]). The tempera-
ture of these clusters was about 38°C while the surround-
ing temperature of water was about 26°C.
2.3. Groundwater
Hot and warm groundwater has been noticed in several
drilled wells in Lebanon. This is well pronounced in wells
dug into/or near hard and fractured basaltic rocks and
some of them were found in the carbonate rocks (i.e.
dolomite and limestone). However, the latter are almost
occur with lower temperature than those in basalt, and
the heat was decreased after pumping in many of these
wells, which also showed temperate steams, injected along
wells’ tubes.
This phenomenon has been witnessed in Akkar region
in the north as well as in Sohmor and Kaoukaba and El-
Ghajar in south (Figure 2). Whereas, the most known
well was drilled in Akkar in 1970s to a depth of appro-
ximately 550 m in the fractured basalts, thus water was
injected due to the high piezometric pressure to about 30
above ground. The measured temperature of water was
70°C and it contained high content of sulfur [2].
3. Materials and Method
Based on the criteria that volcanic rocks are the major
source of heat to result geothermal water, thus studying
the geology of these rocks must be primarily considered
in order to induce the relationship between rock struc-
tures and lithology with respect to hot water. Hence, the
rock succession of Lebanon shows three principal inter-
vening media of basaltic irruption among different sedi-
mentary stratum. These are in the Middle Jurassic, be-
tween Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous as well as in
the Pliocene age [8]. Even though, basalt is the major
igneous rock type in these levels, yet each of them has
different mineralogical characteristics and even their
vertical delineation and geographic distribution have
various aspects and dimensions.
From a geological point of view, the igneous rocks
which are related to relatively recent volcanic eruptions
are most considered for the geothermal water sources,
since their activity is supposed to be still existing [5].
This is well evidenced since all the existing geothermal
water was in/or nearby the Pliocene basalt. Therefore, in
the case of Lebanon, Pliocene rock exposures are utmost
important to investigate the geothermal water, and for
this reason they were tackled in this study.
In accordance with the objective of the study; however,
three principal steps were followed:
1) Identifying the geographic distribution of basalt
2) Filed survey and geochemical analysis whenever it
was accessible
3) Identifying the hydrological controls for geothermal
Identifying the location of geothermal water sources,
with respect to the geological formations and rock struc-
tures, was the principal task to be done. For this purpose,
geological maps (1:50.000 scale) obtained by Dubertret
[9] were utilized. Hence, geological field measures were
taken (e.g. bedding planes inclination, strata superposi-
tion, lithological characteristics, etc) and thus lithological
cross-sections and illustrations of rock successions were
applied whenever it was needed. This was accompanied
with filed investigation to assure the reliability of infor-
mation on the known geothermal water sources, whether
in terrestrial and marine springs as well as for geothermal
water in the observed wells. Therefore, direct measure-
ments for the temperature were taken. Consequently, samp-
ling procedures were carried out whenever it was acces-
sible in several sources for further geochemical analysis
on the selected sources.
The identified sources were diagnosed in order to un-
derstand the geologic setting where they exist, and thus
to induce any relationship with the local hydrology. In
the light of this scope, maps of rock fractures were also
used to figure out the mechanism of water heating and
flow regime. For this purpose satellite images, such as
Aster images with 15 m resolution (Figure 3), were util-
ized since they are capable to lithologies and fractures
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. LCE
Geothermal Water in Lebanon: An Alternative Energy Source
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. LCE
Figure 3. Identification of basalts from Aster images.
4. Results
4.1. Geographic Distribution of Basalt
The geographic distribution of basalts was identified pri-
marily from the available geologic maps as well as they
were checked in a field survey, which was carried out on
different localities around the basaltic exposures. Thus,
basalts with tuffaceous materials of the Pliocene were
attributed to four major domains where they are widely
spread. They exist in the regions of: Akkar, Hinayder,
Kaoukaba and El-Ghajar (Figure 4). Since the study con-
cerns with geothermal water sources; however, these
domains were described as geothermal domains. These
domains were investigated using the available geological
maps in combination with filed verification to selected
sites on the basaltic exposures, thus the major specifica-
tions of these domains were summarized (Table 1).
Figure 4. Distribution of basalts in Lebanon.
f water sampling; in particular it was applied to Ain-
rmal fluids
4.3. Hydrology of Geothermal Water
ermal water,
omains were
Esamak spring in Akkar, the off-shore sources in Chekka
region and to water well in Koukaba region. Thus, mea-
sures were obtained on temperature, pH and salinity (TDS).
Results show high carbonate and sulphate contents as well
as remarkable pH and temperature (Table 2).
According to Bahati et al. [10], the geothe
e characterized by high carbonate and sulphate cons-
tants and salinity of 19000 to 28000 mg/kg total dis-
solved solids.
The geographic distribution of basalt exposures in these
domains can be attributed mainly to the volcanic erup-
tions along lava veins, dikes and faults, in addition to
local fracture systems. Their thickness and spatial extent
at different localities and levels indicates the existence of
volcanic activity in the Pliocene age (< 2 million years),
which points out to the probability of further lava veins
and similar geothermal water in other localities in the
In order to diagnose the hydrology of geoth
geological controls (e.g. fractures, veins, rock bed incli-
nation, etc) must be primarily identified. This will help
recognizing the mechanism of heating and flow regime
of hot water, as well as proposing new geothermal sources.
This was applied, in particular, to characterize the strati-
fication of different lithologies and their contact with
basalt rock masses, as well as in the basalt rocks them-
selves. In addition, structure systems were investigated to
induce any existing hydrologic correlation.
In this respect, the four geothermal d
4.2. Geochemistry of Geothermal Water
The topic on geothermal water in Lebanon is still at the
reconnaissance stage, and concerns are not given to in-
duce a potential use of this source. Hence, there is no any
existing exploitation procedure of geothermal water. For
this reason, geochemical sampling was not properly ac-
cessible to apply detailed investigation, such as deep sam-
pling from wells to measure the geothermal gradient and
other geochemical properties. Therefore, the geochemistry
in this study was carried out depending on the accessibility
udied and their geologic and hydrologic characteristics
were determined. For this scope, filed survey was carried
out, thus illustrations and cross sections were established.
In general, the geologic setting of the existing Pliocene
salts in Lebanon constitutes a volcanic lava flow regime.
Geothermal Water in Lebanon: An Alternative Energy Source
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. LCE
Table 1. Major basalt domains inebanon and their specifications.
domain Latitude Longitude
Area (km2)
altitude Basalt characteristics
Akkar 34°35'15" 36°08'55" 135
Hinayder 34°36'50" 36°25'50" 24
Kaoukaba 33°23'40" 35°38'50" 17
El-Ghajar 33°16'20" 35°37'30" 33
- Massive basaltic plateau dominant with fracture
- Syenite and tuff occur in different localities and at
different levels
- Fluid inclusions appear as internal and external
vascular pits,
- Rose-basalt and calcite veins are common.
- Basaltic, syenite and tuff occur at various levels,
- Surficila fluid inclusions are common,
- Laval flow is featuring in several sites.
- Block basaltic lava with fumaroles
- Fracture systems, mainly jointing is dominant
- Massive and boulder basalts,
- Vertical joint and fracture systems are well de-
- Calcite and iron veins exist,
- Empty vascular cylindrical veins occur.
*Coordinates in the mid-point area; Area within Lebanon.
ource Temperature TDS pH
Table 2. Major geochemical measures of s
Thermal s
elected geothermal water in Lebanon.
Ain-Esamak 65 °C 21008.3 0 mg/kg
Chekka off-shore sources 38 °C
18500 mg/kg 7.7
region well 35 °C 16000 mg/kg 7.4
ation (e.g. A
racture systems (i.e. recha
faults between Bire and
he NE-SW direction and intersect
mages [12]. This in turn in-
ust be considered and given
to have alternative energy sources, notably in the light of
Thus, four interrelations were identified as follows:
- Occurrence of massive basalt plateaus (e.g. Akkar,
Hinayder and El-Ghajar domains)
- Lava flow widely erupted among the carbonate rocks
of the Cenomanian limestone rock formkkar along Er-Rafid and Kfer Mishka in Kaoukaba region.
These faults compose geothermal fracture zones, which
is a widely hydrologic phenomenon worldwide, likewise
d Hinayder domains)
- Lava flow erupted along the Cenomanian and Jurassic
carbonates (e.g. El-Ghajar domain)
- Lava flow erupted among or Cenomanian and related
laying formations (e.g. Kaoukaba domain).
Therefore, the internal heat affects the groundwater and
results geothermal water following two mechanisms:
- Heating within the basalt rock masses, which are
characterized by intensive frge terprets the existence of geothermal water in the marine
environment facing A’abdeh, Chekka and Tyre.
ne), thus high permeability and porosity occur. The
percolated (recharged) water into fractures was subjected
to heat transfer from deep molten materials (Figure 5(a)).
This might not be occurred unless the magma is shallow
enough to heat directly the basalt.
- Contact heating between the basalt rock masses and
the adjacent carbonate rocks, which are almost of frac-
tured and karstified limestone and dolomite aquifers (Fi-
gure 5(b))
Accordingly, the existence of geothermal seepages and
springs on terrain surface is attributed principally to the
existing fault and fissure systems (Figure 5(b)), such as
the case of the NE-SW trending
Mantara in Akkar region along which the geothermal
source of Ain Esamak is located. There is also a similar
fault that trends in t
those occur in Turkey and having similar characteristics
as Lebanon [11].
Some of the intersecting faults between the basalt and
the carbonate rocks have considerable length that ex-
ceeds several tens of kilometers and reach the sea floor,
as indicated from satellite i
5. Conclusions and Discussions
Energy sources are not usually occurred spontaneously
on terrain surface to indicating their existence, but they
usually be discovered everywhere by human by applying
several methods of investigation. Hence, looking for al-
ternative energy sources m
attention as much as the current usable sources. This
must be applied to Lebanon the country with a great need
Geothermal Water in Lebanon: An Alternative Energy Source 23
Figure 5. Schematic figures showing various hydrology of
geothermal water source.
the existing physical and anthropogenic factors. This can
be achieved if strategic plans for natural resources asse-
ssment are applied.
A surveillance and research studies, such as the current
study, are utmost important. In Lebanon, other than hy-
dro-power, wind and solar energy which are being limit-
edly utilized as well as the currently discussed oil explo-
ration; however, geothermal energy must be considered,
especially by the governmental sectors.
There are many indicators on the geothermal water
sources in Lebanon, and they occur in various hydrologic
aspects, which were tackled in this study. Yet, there is no
detailed information on these sources. This study is an
empirical attempt to characterize the existing sources and
to put the first hand information on the geologic and hy-
drologic setting of the geothermal water in Lebanon. It
discusses the mechanism of groundwater heating in order
to yield geothermal water.
Based on the hydrologic controls in this study, it is
obvious that geothermal groundwater in Lebanon is an
existing source. It is also evidenced and anticipated to be
existed on other sites where the Pliocene basalts are lo-
cated with similar hydrologic properties. Therefore, the
potential localities for geothermal water in Lebanon can
be reached by drilling a number of wells on/near the ba-
salt rock masses considering the following hydrological
1) Fault alignments are potential sites for geothermal
water, in particular along fault contacts between basalt
masses and sedimentary rock sequences. This can be
applied to the three trending faults mentioned previously
masses and not the sedimentary ones.
3) Deep sedimentary groundwater basins (i.e. aquifer-
ous rock formations) that are located in a close proximity
to Pliocene basalts are also potential for geothermal wa-
ter sources, but a number of hydrogeological elements
must be taken into account (e.g. hydraulic gradient, strata
inclination, etc).
In addition, the existing geothermal sources must be
reinvestigated and then plans for exploitation must be put.
Such as the Ain Esamak spring, which must be rehabili-
tated, as well as all geothermal seeps and hot/warm water
appears in wells must be investigated in depth. Moreover,
the hydrologic conduits that transporting hot water to the
sea should be also delineated in order to determine their
sources on-land.
[1] AEC, American Energy Commission, 2006. http://www1.
[2] A. Houri, “Renewable Energy Sources in Lebanon: Prac-
tical Applications,” ISESCO Science and Technology Vi-
sion, Vol. 1, 2005, pp. 65-68.
[3] A. Shaban, “Geological Prospects for Uranium Deposits
in Lebanon,” Environmental Hydrology Journal, Vol. 16,
Paper 12, 2008.
[4] GLA, “Status and Potentials of Renewable Energy Tech-
nologies in Lebanon and the Region (Egypt, Jordan, Pal-
estine, Syria),” Desk Study Complied by Green Line As-
sociation, 2007.
[5] A. Shaban, “The Geo-Thermal Energy in Lebanon,” Te-
chnical Report (In Arabic), CNRS, 2009, p. 10.
[6] ALMEE, “State of Energy in Lebanon,” Association li-
banaise pour la maitrise de l’energi at l’environnement,
2005. http://www.Almee.org/pdf/state%20of%20the20%
[7] LCNRS, Lebanese National Council for Scientific Research,
“Thermal Infrared Survey to Detect Submarine Springs
along the Lebanese Coast,” Technical Report, 1999, p. 33.
[8] Z. Beydoun, “Petroleum Prospects of Lebanon: Reevalu-
ation,” American Association of Petroleum Geologists,
Vol. 61, No. 1, 1977, pp. 43-64.
[9] L. Dubertret, “Carte géologique de la Syrie et du Liban
au 1/200000me,” 21 feuilles avec notices explicatrices,
Ministère des Travaux Publics, L’imprimerie Catholique,
Beyrouth, 1955, p. 74.
[10] G. Bahati and F. Natukunda, “Status of Geothermal Ex-
ploration and Development in Uganda,” Short Course III
on the Exploration of Geothermal Resources, Kenya, 2008,
p. 10.
[11] U. Serpen, “Hydrogeological Investigations on Balcova
in Akkar, Kaoukaba and El-Ghajar regions.
2) Fracture zones, and more certainly fissure systems,
are also promising sites for geothermal water, but only
those fissures occurred within the Pliocene basalt bod
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. LCE
24 Geothermal Water in Lebanon: An Alternative Energy Source
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. LCE
Geothermal System in Turkey,” Geothermic, Vol. 33, No.
3, 2004, pp. 309-335.
[12] A. Shaban, M. Khawlie, C. Abdallah and G. Faour, “Geo-
logic Controls of Submarine Groundwater Discharge: Ap-
plication of Remote Sensing to North Lebanon,” Envi-
ronmental Geology, Vol. 47, No. 4, 2005, pp. 512-522.