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  • 1
    Language: English
    In: Journal of Hydrology, 2011, Vol.402(3), pp.274-289
    Description: ► Using multiple isotopes to study groundwater flow in active rifts. ► Hydrochemical and isotopic evolution from escarpments to Rift floor. ► Mantle CO influences groundwater hydrochemistry. ► Apparent C ages are similar in Rift floor groundwater. ► Groundwater flow paths occur both longitudinal and transversal to rift axis. This study aims to investigate groundwater recharge and flow patterns in tectonically active rift systems, exemplified by a case study in the Main Ethiopian Rift. The chosen approach includes the investigation of hydrochemical parameters and environmental isotopes ( H, δ H, δ O, δ C-DIC, C-DIC, Sr/ Sr). Apparent groundwater ages were determined by radiocarbon dating after correction of C-DIC using a modified δ C-mixing model and further validation using geochemical modelling with NETPATH. Hydrochemical and isotopic data indicate an evolutionary trend existing from the escarpments towards the Rift floor. Groundwater evolves from tritium-containing and hence recently recharged Ca–HCO -type water on the escarpments to tritium-free Na–HCO groundwater dominating deep Rift floor aquifers. Correspondingly, rising pH and values coupled with increasingly enriched δ C signatures point to hydrochemical evolution of DIC and beginning dilution of the carbon isotope signature by other carbon sources, related to a diffuse influx of mantle CO into the groundwater system. Especially thermal groundwater sampled near the most recent fault zones in the Fantale/Beseka region displays clear influence of mantle CO and increased water–rock interaction, indicated by a shift in δ C and Sr/ Sr signatures. The calculation of apparent groundwater ages revealed an age increase of deep groundwater from the escarpments to the Rift floor, complying with hydrochemical evolution. Within the Rift, samples show a relatively uniform distribution of apparent C ages of ∼1800 to ∼2800 years, with the expected down-gradient aging trend lacking, contradicting the predominant intra-rift groundwater flow described in existing transect-based models of groundwater flow. By combining hydrochemical and new isotopic data with knowledge of the structural geology of the Rift, we improve the existing groundwater flow model and propose a new conceptual model by identifying flow paths both transversal and longitudinal to the main Rift axis, the latter being strongly controlled by faulted and tilted blocks on the escarpment steps. The connection between groundwater flow and fault direction make this model applicable to other active rift systems with similar structural settings.
    Keywords: Rift Tectonics ; Hydrochemistry ; Isotope Hydrology ; Groundwater Cycle and Dating ; 87sr/ 86sr ; 14c ; Geography
    ISSN: 0022-1694
    E-ISSN: 1879-2707
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  • 2
    Language: English
    In: Isotopes in Environmental and Health Studies, 01 September 2010, Vol.46(3), pp.312-324
    Description: In the framework of the investigation of enrichment processes of nitrate in groundwater of the Kalahari of Botswana near Serowe, recharge processes were investigated. The thick unsaturated zone extending to up to 100 m of mostly unconsolidated sediments and very low recharge rates pose a serious...
    Keywords: Aquifer ; Botswana ; CFC ; Helium-3 ; Hydrogen-3 ; Infiltration ; Isotope Ecology ; Isotope Hydrology ; Kalahari ; Recharge ; Soil Water ; Sulphur Hexafluoride ; Chemistry ; Physics
    ISSN: 1025-6016
    E-ISSN: 1477-2639
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  • 3
    Language: English
    In: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 2009, Vol.73(4), pp.911-922
    Description: Groundwater is an important and often exclusive water resource in arid and semi-arid regions. The aim of the present paper was to gain insight into the processes and conditions that control the deterioration of groundwater quality in the semi-arid Kalahari of Botswana. Measurements of He, He, Ne, Ne, and of C of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) were combined with existing isotopic and hydrochemical data to investigate groundwater from the Ntane Sandstone Aquifer, which is affected by high nitrate concentrations of non-anthropogenic origin. All groundwater samples revealed neon concentrations in excess to air-saturated water, which we attributed to the addition of excess air during recharge. Neon concentrations ranged from values close to air saturation for C DIC rich samples (up to 80.5%MC) up to values of 90% in excess to air-saturated water for lower C DIC contents (2.6–61.3%MC). A strong linear correlation of excess Ne with nitrate concentrations suggests an intimate connection between groundwater quality and the processes and conditions during groundwater recharge. Low groundwater recharge rates under present-day semi-arid conditions are associated with low amounts of excess Ne and elevated nitrate concentrations. In contrast to this, higher excess Ne values in groundwater of lower C DIC and nitrate contents indicate that the high quality groundwater end-member presumably is related to higher groundwater table fluctuations during wetter climatic conditions in the past. We attribute the decline in groundwater quality with respect to nitrate to a decreasing rate and temporal variability of groundwater recharge, and to concurrent changes in biogeochemical activities following a transition to a drier climate during the Holocene. Under such conditions, a much stronger decrease in groundwater recharge compared to the release of nitrate from soil organic matter may result in elevated nitrate concentrations in the vadose zone and groundwater. This implies a strong impact of climate change on the transport of solutes like nitrate through the vadose zone which needs to be considered in predictions of future groundwater quality.
    Keywords: Geology
    ISSN: 0016-7037
    E-ISSN: 1872-9533
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