Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Most detailed maps yet of Africa's groundwater shows scattergun approach to borehole drilling likely to be unsuccessful

Date:
April 20, 2012
Source:
Institute of Physics (IOP)
Summary:
A scattergun approach to borehole drilling in Africa is likely to be unsuccessful. This is the message from a group of researchers who have, for the first time, quantified the amount, and potential yield, of groundwater across the whole of Africa. They estimate the total volume of groundwater to be around 0.66 million km3 – more than 100 times the available surface freshwater on the continent – and hope that the assessment can inform plans to improve access to water in Africa, where 300 million people do not have access to safe drinking water.

A scattergun approach to borehole drilling in Africa is likely to be unsuccessful. This is the message from a group of UK researchers who have, for the first time, quantified the amount, and potential yield, of groundwater across the whole of Africa.

They estimate the total volume of groundwater to be around 0.66 million km3 -- more than 100 times the available surface freshwater on the continent -- and hope that the assessment can inform plans to improve access to water in Africa, where 300 million people do not have access to safe drinking water.

The results were published April 20, in IOP Publishing's journal Environmental Research Letters.

The researchers, from the British Geological Survey and University College London, warn that high yielding boreholes will not be found using a scattergun approach and a more careful and exploratory approach that takes into account local groundwater conditions will be needed, which they hope their new study will encourage.

Their results show that in many populated areas in Africa, there is sufficient groundwater to supply hand pumps that communities can use for drinking water. These hand pumps can deliver around 0.1-0.3 litres per second.

Opportunities for boreholes yielding five litres per second or more -- the usual amount needed for commercial irrigation -- are not widespread and limited to specific areas, such as countries in the north of Africa.

Central to the researchers' methods was the collation of existing national hydrogeological maps as well as 283 aquifer studies from 152 publications. The vast amount of data was compiled into a single database in which the researchers were able to make their calculations.

The amount of groundwater present in a certain region is reliant on the interplay between the geology of the area, the amount of weathering and the amount of rainfall experienced both in the past and present. All of these factors were considered to estimate the volume and potential yield of groundwater in each aquifer.

As a result of population growth in Africa and a planned increase in irrigation to meet food demands, water use is set to increase markedly over the next few decades. Climate change will pose a huge threat to this increase; however, groundwater responds much more slowly to increasing climatic variability as opposed to surface water, so will act as a buffer to climate change.

The lead author of the study, Dr Alan MacDonald, said: "Groundwater is such an important water resource in Africa and underpins much of the drinking water supply. Appropriately sited and developed boreholes for low yielding rural water supply and hand pumps are likely to be successful and resilient to climate change.

"High yielding boreholes should not be developed without a thorough understanding of the local groundwater conditions."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Institute of Physics (IOP). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A M MacDonald, H C Bonsor, B Dochartaigh, R G Taylor. Quantitative maps of groundwater resources in Africa. Environmental Research Letters, 2012; 7 (2): 024009 DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/7/2/024009

Cite This Page:

Institute of Physics (IOP). "Most detailed maps yet of Africa's groundwater shows scattergun approach to borehole drilling likely to be unsuccessful." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120420105541.htm>.
Institute of Physics (IOP). (2012, April 20). Most detailed maps yet of Africa's groundwater shows scattergun approach to borehole drilling likely to be unsuccessful. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120420105541.htm
Institute of Physics (IOP). "Most detailed maps yet of Africa's groundwater shows scattergun approach to borehole drilling likely to be unsuccessful." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120420105541.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) The United Nations says water is a human right, but should it be free? Detroit has cut off water to residents who can't pay, and the U.N. isn't happy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

3BL Media (Oct. 20, 2014) Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-fuel Impala Video provided by 3BL
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) Suni, a rare northern white rhino at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, died Friday. This, as many media have pointed out, leaves people fearing extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins