HU - Hydrogeology and Environment

Journal of the Dept. of Hydrogeology and Environment, University of Würzburg (ISSN 09309-3757)

Editorial office: BGI, Greisingstr. 8, 97074 Würzburg, GERMANY

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Vol. 31 (2002)


Vol. 31: 

Hydrogeology of the Kalahari in north-eastern Namibia with special emphasis on groundwater recharge, flow modelling and hydrochemistry

Heike Klock

This study has focused on hydrogeological and hydrochemical settings of the Northern Namibian Kalahari Catchment which is the Namibian part of the Makgadikgadi-Kalahari-Catchment. Recharge has been the subject of process-understanding, quantification and regionalisation. Within the semiarid study area a bimodal surface constitution is prominent: hardrocks areas allow for fast infiltration along karsts and joints, whereas areas covered by unconsolidated sediments receive minor diffuse recharge and locally some preferred flow path recharge develops along shrinkage cracks and rootlets. Five substratum classes have been soil physically studied: Pans and vleis, brown to red soils, dune sand, soil with an aeolian influence, and calcrete. Aeolian sands are most promising for the development of direct diffuse recharge. Recharge by preferred flow might occur in all soil classes either due to joints in calcrete or structures and rootlets in soils. All soil classes contribute to indirect recharge because even the dune sand allows, albeit very locally, the generation of runoff. The occurrences of recharge through the unconsolidated soil and the hardrocks have been confirmed by hydrograph interpretation and by a study of hydrochemical data which identified groundwater of flood water and flood water after soil passage composition. Other prominent hydrochemical processes in the Kalahari are associated with the carbonate-equilibrium-system, mixing with highly mineralised water that is either sulphate (central area) or chloride dominated (fringe area) and development of sodium hydrogencarbonate water types. The latter is mostly generated by feldspar weathering. Variations of the hydrochemical compositions were observed for shallow groundwaters. They do not only reflect the recharge amount but also the recharge conditions, e.g. a wetter year is allowing more vegetation which increases the hydrogencarbonate content. Inverse determination of recharge by the chloride mass balance method gives recharge amounts between 0.2 and locally more than 100 mm/a. The least favoured recharge conditions are found for Kalahari covered areas, the largest amount occurs in the Otavi area. The distribution of recharge areas within the catchment is rather complex and regionalisation of recharge for the entire catchment was done by a forward approach using satellite images and by an inverse approach using hydrochemical data. From the inverse hydrochemical approach a basin-wide balanced recharge amount of 1.39 mm/a is achieved. The forward approach gave a basin-wide figure of 0.88 (minimum assumption) to 4.53 mm/a (maximum assumption). A simplistic groundwater flow model confirmed the results from the minimum recharge regionalisation by satellite images and the result from the hydrochemical approach. Altogether a mutually verified basin-wide recharge figure of ca. 1 mm/a turns out.

Paper language: english

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