Groundwater flow dynamics in the complex aquifer system of Gidabo River Basin (Ethiopian Rift): a multi-proxy approach

Abraham Mechal, Steffen Birk, Martin Dietzel, Albrecht Leis, Gerfried Winkler, Aberra Mogessie, Seifu Kebede

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Hydrochemical and isotope data in conjunction with hydraulic head and spring discharge observations were used to characterize the regional groundwater flow dynamics and the role of the tectonic setting in the Gidabo River Basin, Ethiopian Rift. Both groundwater levels and hydrochemical and isotopic data indicate groundwater flow from the major recharge area in the highland and escarpment into deep rift floor aquifers, suggesting a deep regional flow system can be distinguished from the shallow local aquifers. The δ18O and δ2H values of deep thermal (≥30 °C) groundwater are depleted relative to the shallow (18O values, the thermal groundwater is found to be recharged in the highland around 2,600 m a.s.l. and on average mixed with a proportion of 30 % shallow groundwater. While most groundwater samples display diluted solutions, δ13C data of dissolved inorganic carbon reveal that locally the thermal groundwater near fault zones is loaded with mantle CO2, which enhances silicate weathering and leads to anomalously high total dissolved solids (2,000–2,320 mg/l) and fluoride concentrations (6–15 mg/l) exceeding the recommended guideline value. The faults are generally found to act as complex conduit leaky barrier systems favoring vertical mixing processes. Normal faults dipping to the west appear to facilitate movement of groundwater into deeper aquifers and towards the rift floor, whereas those dipping to the east tend to act as leaky barriers perpendicular to the fault but enable preferential flow parallel to the fault plane.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519–538
Number of pages20
JournalHydrogeology journal
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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Keywords

  • Ethiopia
  • Groundwater flow
  • Hydrochemistry
  • Stable isotopes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)

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