The hydrogeology of the northeastern part of Mt Xishan has historically been interpreted in terms of a simple unconfined aquifer model. The groundwater required is characterized by (1) karst terrain, (2) multilayered unconfined groundwater flow developed in block mountains involving rapid hanging discharges and (3) deep confined groundwater with a carbon 14 age of 1000–2800 years and low tritium content. The flows are partly towards the southern part of Mt Xishan, partly east towards the porous aquifers of the Nitun Basin and partly discharging through the Lancun Spring system.
The spatial structure of karst aquifers in block mountains is elucidated by an understanding of stratigraphic, structural, lithological, climatic and karst geomorphological evolution. The actual complex hydrogeological conditions in the Mt Xishan area considered are demonstrated by a comprehensive model proposed by the author. Such a model may also be applied in other karstic block mountains.