Deep infiltration through a sandy alluvial fan in semiarid Niger inferred from electrical conductivity survey, vadose zone chemistry and hydrological modelling

Abstract : In semiarid southwestern Niger, most of the groundwater recharge is indirect and occurs through endoreic ponds. Elsewhere in the landscape, there is no evidence of deep infiltration, with a possible exception for gullies and alluvial fans on sandy slopes. In order to verify this hypothesis, a detailed geophysical and geochemical survey was conducted on a large, representative mid-slope fan (6 ha). At this site, distributed hydrological modelling conducted over the encompassing endoreic catchment (190 ha) showed high losses of runoff water by infiltration. Electromagnetic mapping and 2-D electrical imaging survey were used to investigate the 35 in deep vadose zone; in addition, 8 boreholes were drilled following the geophysical survey to constrain the interpretation. Variations in apparent electrical conductivity measured in boreholes appear to be mainly linked with changes in the soil solution mineralization. An extrapolation throughout the area shows that apparent electrical conductivity of the ground is systematically lower below channels; this suggests localised leaching through the unsaturated zone. A physically-based, 2-D distributed hydrologic model was used to estimate the amount of surface water loss by infiltration for the 1992-2002 period. Depending on year, infiltrated volumes range from 1000 to 24000 m(3). This represents between 5% and 16% of the runoff that reaches the final outlet of the basin, an endoreic valley bottom pond where recharge to the aquifer has been shown to occur. Because leaching of the vadose zone is observed down to a depth of 10 m below channels, episodic groundwater recharge through sandy mid-slope fans is highly probable during rainy years.
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CATENA, Elsevier, 2006, 67 (2), pp.105-118. 〈10.1016/j.catena.2006.02.009〉
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Sylvain Massuel, Guillaume Favreau, Marc Descloitres, Yann Le Troquer, Yves Albouy, et al.. Deep infiltration through a sandy alluvial fan in semiarid Niger inferred from electrical conductivity survey, vadose zone chemistry and hydrological modelling. CATENA, Elsevier, 2006, 67 (2), pp.105-118. 〈10.1016/j.catena.2006.02.009〉. 〈ird-00165668〉

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