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Origins of streamflow in a crystalline basement catchment in a sub-humid Sudanian zone: The Donga basin (Benin, West Africa): Inter-annual variability of water budget

Abstract : During the last quarter of the 20th century, West Africa underwent a particularly intense and generalized drought. During this period, the biggest drops in streamflow were observed in the Sudanian zone rather than in the Sahelian zone, but the reasons are still poorly understood. In 2000, a meso-scale hydrological observatory was set up in the sub-humid Sudanian zone of the Upper Ouémé Valley (Benin). Three embedded catchments of 12-586 km2 located on a crystalline bedrock were intensively instrumented to document the different terms of the water budget and to identify the main streamflow generating processes and base-flow mechanisms at different scales. Geophysical, hydrological and geochemical data were collected throughout the catchments from 2002 to 2006. Crossing these data helped define their hydrological functioning. The region has seasonal streamflow, and the permanent groundwater in the weathered mantle does not drain to rivers, instead, seasonal perched groundwaters are the major contributor to annual streamflow. The perched groundwaters are mainly located in seasonally waterlogged sandy layers in the headwater bottom-lands called bas-fonds in French-speaking West Africa of 1st order streams. During the period 2003-2006, regolith groundwater recharge ranged between 10% and 15% of the annual rainfall depth. Depletion of permanent groundwater during the dry season is probably explained by local evapotranspiration which was seen not to be limited to gallery forests. During the 4-year study period, a reduction of 20% in annual rainfall led to a 50% reduction in streamflow. This reduction was observed in the two components of the flow: direct runoff and drainage of perched groundwater. Thanks to the comprehensive dataset obtained, the results obtained for the Donga experimental catchment are now being extrapolated to the whole upper Ouémé valley, which can be considered as representative of sub-humid Sudanian rivers flowing on a crystalline basement, for example, the upper courses of several major West African rivers (Senegal, Niger, Bani, and Volta).
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https://hal-insu.archives-ouvertes.fr/insu-00649267
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Submitted on : Wednesday, December 7, 2011 - 3:11:52 PM
Last modification on : Friday, September 25, 2020 - 11:02:45 AM

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L. Seguis, B. Kamagté, G. Favreau, M. Descloitres, J.L. Seidel, et al.. Origins of streamflow in a crystalline basement catchment in a sub-humid Sudanian zone: The Donga basin (Benin, West Africa): Inter-annual variability of water budget. Journal of Hydrology, Elsevier, 2011, 402 (1-2), pp.1-13. ⟨10.1016/j.jhydrol.2011.01.054⟩. ⟨insu-00649267⟩

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