Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.1029/2022WR032016
Licence creative commons licence
Title (Primary) Tectonic control of groundwater recharge and flow in faulted volcanic aquifers
Author Olaka, L.A.; Kasemann, S.A.; Sültenfuß, J.; Wilke, F.D.H.; Olago, D.O.; Mulch, A.; Musolff, A.
Journal Water Resources Research
Year 2022
Department HDG
Volume 58
Issue 7
Page From e2022WR032016
Language englisch
Topic T5 Future Landscapes
Keywords groundwater; relay ramp; faulted aquifer; East Africa; tritium; isotopes
Abstract Groundwater dynamics in continental rift zone settings remain poorly understood because of the spatial heterogeneity in flow, storage, and recharge dynamics. The Central Kenya Rift is an excellent example where, though groundwater is important for domestic, irrigation, and geothermal energy exploitation, its hydrogeological properties remain largely unknown. Existing conceptual groundwater models assume flow from the high-elevation, humid rift flanks to the low-elevation, semiarid rift floor, but the role of the faults that fracture the aquifers is commonly unaccounted for. We applied geochemical, isotopic (δ18O, δD, 87Sr/86Sr, 3H-3He), multivariate statistical methods, and knowledge of geological structures to determine recharge sources, flow, and residence times to revise the conceptual flow model. Results show that groundwater is primarily recharged by meteoric waters, river input, and Lake recharge. The faults impart a control on the groundwater flow within four sub-compartments. Major differences in flow patterns exist between the eastern and western rift flanks: surface and groundwater transfer from the eastern flanks to the rift floor occurs via relay ramp structures, and flow on the west side takes place laterally from the high escarpment. Although 3H-3He dating shows that the age of groundwater ranges from a few to >>50 years, most of the groundwater in the rift-floor area is free of 3H and was recharged before the 1960s. Hence, we propose that these areas receive episodic recharge and represent the most sensitive groundwater resources in the rift. To inform sustainable groundwater development, a robust monitoring network is required to capture the heterogeneous groundwater dynamics.
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Olaka, L.A., Kasemann, S.A., Sültenfuß, J., Wilke, F.D.H., Olago, D.O., Mulch, A., Musolff, A. (2022):
Tectonic control of groundwater recharge and flow in faulted volcanic aquifers
Water Resour. Res. 58 (7), e2022WR032016