Lake-groundwater relationships and fluid-rock interaction in the East African Rift Valley : isotopic evidence

Darling, W. George; Gizaw, Berhanu; Arusei, Musa K.. 1996 Lake-groundwater relationships and fluid-rock interaction in the East African Rift Valley : isotopic evidence. Journal of African Earth Sciences, 22 (4). 423-431.

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The assessment of water resources in the Rift Valley environment is important for population, agriculture and energy-related issues and depends on a good understanding of the relationship between freshwater lakes and regional groundwater. This can be hampered by the amount of fluid-rock interaction which occurs throughout the rift, obscuring original hydrochemical signatures. However, O and H stable isotope ratios can be used as tracers of infiltration over sometimes considerable distances, while showing that the volcanic edifices of the rift floor have varying effects on groundwater flow patterns. Specific cases from Kenya and Ethiopia are considered, including Lakes Naivasha, Baringo, Awasa and Zwai. In addition to their physical tracing role, stable isotopes can reveal information about processes of fluid-rock interaction. The general lack of O isotope shifting in rift hydrothermal systems suggests a high water:rock ratio, with the implication that these systems are mature. Carbon isotope studies on the predominantly bicarbonate waters of the rift show how they evolve from dilute meteoric recharge to highly alkaline waters, via the widespread silicate hydrolysis promoted by the flux of mantle carbon dioxide which occurs in most parts of the rift. There appears to be only minor differences in the C cycle between Kenya and Ethiopia.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: BGS Programmes > Groundwater Management
Additional Keywords: GroundwaterBGS, Groundwater, Surface water interaction
Related URLs:
Date made live: 02 Dec 2010 14:09 +0 (UTC)

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