Stable and Radiogenic isotopes in southern Mozambique: a window into groundwater recharge, mixing and vulnerability

The use of radiogenic isotope tracers, produced through bomb testing (e.g. 3H and 14C), and the application of these isotopes is yet to be fully explored now that atmospheric abundances have returned to background levels. New isotope-enabled institutions and laboratories have recently been established in developing countries to apply isotopes in practical research. This study utilized several laboratories in South Africa and in Europe to compile a robust hydrochemical (major cations and anions) and isotope (d18O, d2H, 3H, 14C, 86Sr/87Sr) dataset of groundwater from 95 sample locations in the Maputo province of Mozambique. Groundwater is hosted in different aquifers and recharged through variable mechanisms ranging from direct infiltration of exposed alluvial soils to inter-aquifer transfer between fractured aquifer systems in the mountainous regions and the weathered bedrock in the lowlands. A combination of hydrochemistry and isotopes provided insight into the heterogeneous nature of recharge, mixing of modern and fossil groundwaters, and aquifer vulnerabilities when combined with other physical parameters in the region. However, it is also clear that grab sampling over a regional spatial extent and two sampling seasons (wet and dry) did not capture all the system variability, and more regular monitoring would uncover details in the system’s behaviour not captured in this study.

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Presenter Surname
van Rooyen
Southern Mozambique
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