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Trace metal enrichments in water of the Okavango Delta (Botswana): hydrological consequences

Abstract : The Okavango Delta in northern Botswana is an endorheic ecosystem formed by 150,000 islands surrounded by a flood plain. The vegetation of these islands displays an external tree ring enclosing a barren interior domain with evaporitic deposits. We sampled the groundwater into piezometers across an island at the southwest of the Delta, and drilled sediments. The geochemical analysis of the water exhibits two different compositions: a fresh water in the floodplain and a saline water in the interior part. These inner samples display enrichments in heavy metals, metalloids and critical metals such as, Rare Earth Elements (REE). The latest show a continuous enrichment from LREE to HREE and positive Ce and Eu anomalies, associated to alkaline pH. Overall, the two types of displayed REE patterns fingerprint two different water sources. The geochemistry of sediments indicates the same composition whatever the sample location and no traces of evaporitic deposits was found. The variations in the water table depth in the piezometers shows different hydrological behaviors in between the floodplain and the barren zone which does not follow the flood cycle. Thus, we document two different aquifers with independent hydrological behaviors: a surface fresh‐water aquifer in the floodplain connected to the channels, and a salty confined aquifer below the islands. The contrasted geochemical composition of the waters explains the distribution of the vegetation which survives through access to fresh water. The hydrological architecture of this island in the southwestern Delta differs from other islands, highlighting the hydrological complexity of the Okavango Delta.
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https://hal-insu.archives-ouvertes.fr/insu-03220219
Contributor : Isabelle Dubigeon <>
Submitted on : Monday, May 17, 2021 - 8:58:41 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, May 19, 2021 - 3:10:38 AM

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Olivier Dauteuil, Marc Jolivet, Aline Dia, M. Murray‐hudson, K. Makati, et al.. Trace metal enrichments in water of the Okavango Delta (Botswana): hydrological consequences. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, AGU and the Geochemical Society, 2021, 2 (5), pp.e2021GC009856. ⟨10.1029/2021GC009856⟩. ⟨insu-03220219v2⟩

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