TOWARDS A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF THE HYDROLOGIC SETTING OF THE NUBIAN SANDSTONE AQUIFER SYSTEM: INFERENCES FROM GROUNDWATER FLOW MODELS, CL-36 AGES, AND GRACE DATA
Monday, 14 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
The Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System (NSAS), one of the largest (area: ~2×106 km2) groundwater systems worldwide, is formed of three major sub-basins: Kufra (Libya, NE Chad and NW Sudan), Dakhla (Egypt), and N. Sudan Platform (Sudan). To determine the mean residence time of water in the aquifer, the connectivity of its sub-basins and the groundwater flow across these sub-basins have to be understood. An integrated approach was adopted to address these issues using: (1) a regional calibrated groundwater flow model that simulates early (>10,000 years) steady-state conditions under wet climatic periods, and later (<10,000 years) transient conditions under arid condition; (2) 36Cl ages, and (3) GRACE solutions. Our findings include: (1) the NSAS was recharged (recharge: plains: 2–7 mm/yr; highlands 10–27 mm/yr) in the previous wet climatic periods on a regional scale, yet its outcrops are still receiving in dry periods appreciable precipitation over the highlands and modest (3.04±1.10 km3/yr) local recharge; (2) a progressive increase in 36Cl groundwater ages were observed along groundwater flow directions and along structures that are sub-parallel to the groundwater flow direction; (3) the NE-SW Pelusium shear zone provides a preferred groundwater flow pathway from the Kufra to the Dakhla sub-basin as evidenced by the relatively high hydraulic conductivities and relatively younger ages of groundwater along the shear zone compared to the groundwater ages in areas surrounding the shear zone; (4) the E-W trending Uweinat-Aswan basement uplift impedes groundwater flow from the N-Sudan Platform sub-basin as evidenced by the difference in groundwater isotopic compositions across the uplift, the depletion in GRACE-derived total water storage north but not south, of the uplift, and groundwater ages that are indicative of autochthonous precipitation and recharge over the Dakhla sub-basin. Our findings provide valuable insights into optimum ways for the utilization of the NSAS.
Keywords: NSAS, Groundwater flow model, Ages data, isotopic data