Estimation of rainfall inputs and direct recharge to the deep unsaturated zone of southern Niger using the chloride profile method.

J. Bromley, W.M. Edmunds, E. Fellman, J. Brouwer, S.R. Gaze, J. Sudlow, J.D. Taupin

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Abstract

An estimate of direct groundwater recharge below a region of natural woodland (tiger bush) has been made in south-west Niger using the solute profile technique. Data has been collected from a 77 m deep well dug within the study area covered by HAPEX-Sahel (Hydrological and Atmospheric Pilot Experiment), an international large-scale energy, water and carbon balance experiment carried out during the summer of 1992. During well construction samples were taken from the unsaturated zone at the following intervals: every 25 cm from 0-10 m, every 50 cm from 10-62.5 m, then every metre to the bottom of the well. Pore water was extracted from each sample either by centrifugation or elutriation and analysed for chloride; moisture contents of samples were obtained gravimetrically. These data have been used to produce depth profiles of pore water chloride concentration and moisture content throughout the unsaturated zone. From these profiles it has been possible to derive an estimate of historic direct recharge at the site. The chloride concentration of rainfall, which is required to make the estimate, was determined from the analysis of 123 rainfall samples collected from five EPSAT (vers une Estimation des Precipitation par Satellite au sahel) rain gauges in 1992. A mean recharge rate of 13 mm year-1 (range 10-19 mm) is estimated for the upper 70 m of the profile, with a total residence time of 790 years (range 520-990 years). This is considered to be a representative estimate of the magnitude of direct recharge taking place below tiger bush areas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-154
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Volume188-189
Issue number1-4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1997

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