Conference Abstracts

All Abstracts were presented at the Groundwater Conferences

Displaying 1 - 10 of 220 results
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Abstract

The colliery is situated in the Vereeniging–Sasolburg Coalfield, immediately southwest of Sasolburg in the Republic of South Africa. The stratigraphy of this coal field is typical of the coal-bearing strata of the Karoo Sequence. The succession consists of pre-Karoo rocks (dolomites of the Chuniespoort Group of the Transvaal Sequence) overlain by the Dwyka Formation, followed by the Ecca Group sediments, of which the Vryheid Formation is the coal-bearing horizon. Mainly the lava of the Ventersdorp and Hekpoort Groups underlie the coal. The Karoo Formation is present over the whole area and consists mainly of sandstone, shale and coal of varying thickness.

The underground mine was flooded after mining was ceased at the colliery in 2004. The colliery is in the fortunate position that it has a very complete and concise monitoring programme in place and over 200 boreholes were drilled in and around the mine throughout the life of the mine. To stabilise mine workings located beneath main roads in the area, an ashfilling project was undertaken by the colliery since 1999. A key issue is if the mine will eventually decant, and what the quality of the water will be. This is important for the future planning of the company, as this will determine if a water treatment plant is necessary, and what the specifications for such a plant will be, if needed. Therefore it was decided to do a down-the-hole chemical profile of each available and accessible borehole with a multi- parameter probe with the aim of observing any visible stratification. Ninety-four boreholes were accessible and chemical profiles were created of them.

From the data collected a three-dimensional image was created from the electrical conductivity values at different depths to see if any stratification was visible in the shallow aquifer.  The ash-filling operations disturbed the normal aquifer conditions, and this created different pressures than normally expected at a deeper underground  colliery.  From  the  three-dimensional  image  created  it  was  observed  that  no stratification was visible in the shallow aquifer, which lead to the conclusion that in the event that if decant should occur, the water quality of the decanting water will still be of very good quality unless external factors such as ash-filling activities are introduced. It is not often that it is possible to create chemical profiles of such a large number of boreholes for a single colliery and as a result a very complete and informative three-dimensional electrical conductivity image was created. This image is very helpful in aiding the decision-making process in the future management of the colliery and eventually obtaining a closure certificate, and also to determine whether ash-filling is a viable option in discarding the ash.

Abstract

Amongst groundwater users, the importance of a scientific borehole yield test is often highly underrated. From experience, a vast number of groundwater users make use of a method of yield testing known as the ‘farmer test’ or even just the air lift yield obtained when the borehole is drilled. In many cases, a scientific yield test is only conducted so that the borehole can be licensed with the Department of Water and Sanitation. A recent yield test undertaken near Stellenbosch demonstrated the importance of a scientific yield test, and the short comings associated with the “farmer method”. The case study pertains to a borehole where the air lift yield was much higher than expected for the area. The borehole was drilled into a high transmissivity aquifer of limited extent. As such, the yield testing was able to quite quickly detect and demonstrate impacts from aquifer boundary conditions. The case study demonstrates the need for hydrogeological conceptualization of the aquifer and flexibility in designing and modifying the yield test. The safe yield potential of this borehole was reduced from an expected 15 L/second to 0.5 L/second. Aquifer boundary conditions occur at most boreholes to some degree, and this case provides a demonstration of the effect on yield testing.

Abstract

The North West Province has produced a large portion of South Africa’s inland alluvial diamonds. Kimberlite intrusions are typically the parent source for the alluvial diamonds. Diamondiferous kimberlite intrusions were eroded over time by surface run-off and streams which transport the diamondiferous sediments downstream to depositional regimes. The diamondiferous alluvial deposits around Schweizer- Reneke were mostly deposited on magmatic rock of the Ventersdorp Supergroup. Formal alluvial mining in the area often requires a considerable amount of overburden material to be removed in order to access the coarser gravel beds which contain the economic grade diamonds. Diamond production from secondary sources in this region totalled approximately 14.4 million carats up to 1984, and small scale production persists today. The case study focuses on the impacts of alluvial diamond mining operations on surface- and groundwater resources in the North West Province, South Africa. To recover diamonds from the sediments, the industry is currently focussing on using modern processing methods and a more clinical approach to increase the sustainability of mining, therefore minimizing the impact on the environment. Wastewater from the screening and the fines management phase is delivered to the primary water treatment phase where up to 70% of process water is recirculated to the processing plant, minimising the volumes of fresh water required. The settled sludge or waste is deposited on a tailings storage facility. Alluvial diamond mining operations, unlike many other industrial processes and types of mining, have a lower environmental hazardous risk associated with waste material, however, it is a possibility that leachate emanating from tailings often have a high salt content. The process raw water to these operations are supplied from both surface- and groundwater sources from the local area. Supplying processing raw water in a sustainable manner is often a challenge in drought stricken areas with limited surface flow and low aquifer potential.

Abstract

The western part of South Africa is experiencing a prolonged drought. In many cases, the effects of drought have been noticed since 2011, putting the western part of the Northern Cape under severe stress to provide water to the communities. In the past 10 years, rainfall has also decreased, and in most cases, the catchments did not receive rain to help with the recharge of groundwater. Various lessons were learned from the change in the climate and environment. But a lot can be done to minimise the impact of these changes on the water supply to communities. This paper addresses what we are noticing in the environment that impacts the way we think groundwater behaves. The changes include the change in rainfall: patterns, lines, and type of rainfall. The collapsing of boreholes with water strikes closing when being over-pumped occurs more often in the last 3 years. Pump test recommendation changes with water level change – deployment output. A combination of the factors mentioned puts more stress on groundwater resources, and a mindset change is needed to give assurance of future supply to the communities.

Abstract

The past few years hydraulic fracturing has been a hotly researched topic. Currently, most published documents are just speculation of what can happen if hydraulic fracturing is to take place in South Africa. There is very little work done to firstly establish a baseline on the current groundwater quality and secondly look at the current state of the groundwater around the Soekor wells. For these reasons a geochemical investigation was launched looking at the Soekor wells and the surrounding boreholes to determine a valid baseline.

Looking at the two Soekor wells; geochemical analyses was conducted on water, soil and rocks. The drill core of the wells; soils from the waste ponds and water at or nearby the wells were sampled and analysed. By making use of XRF; XRD, Stable Isotopes and water chemistry analyses, a better picture of these wells and groundwater can be developed to give better guidelines to what should happen during the monitoring of hydraulic fracturing wells.

Abstract

Groundwater in the South Western Karoo is of critical importance in the overall freshwater supply. However groundwater sustainability is vulnerable to natural as well as anthropogenic influence. Groundwater monitoring scheme are employed to provide the necessary information during decision making situations. Groundwater monitoring thus performs in important role in groundwater management and protection. Interest in exploiting potentially vast reserves of shale gas in the deep geological formations in the region, has been met with concerns that can negatively impact the groundwater system. The current monitoring network is not adequately designed to capture the necessary level of information. Hence in this paper a revised monitoring network is designed. A novel geostatistical hydrogeological approach is applied to a case study area in the South Western Karoo. Kriging methods are used to determine required density of the new network using the spatial autocorrelation of water levels in the case study area. Using the spatial autocorrelation range a hexagonal sampling grid is developed. Using key hydrogeological features, such as contaminant pathways and zones of favourable water resources monitoring points are systematically positioned within the sampling grid. Using thus approach the current monitoring network is expanded from 34 points to a total of 95 monitoring points. The new network shows an increase in optimization by lower overall kriging prediction standard error than the current network. This allows more efficient monitoring of baseline conditions and detection monitoring.

Abstract

All groundwater is vulnerable to contamination, and natural in homogeneity in the physical environment results in certain areas being more vulnerable to contamination than others. Inherent in the agricultural, domestic and industrial sectors of Pietermaritzburg, is the generation of contaminants which, upon reaching the aquifer, result in the deterioration of the quality of groundwater, thus resulting in the water no longer being fit for its intended use. The DRASTIC method is used to calculate the groundwater vulnerability of a 670 km2 region, including the city of Pietermaritzburg. The suggested ratings of each parameter are scrutinised and adapted, according to their relevance to the region and according to known geological occurrences. The use of this method enables the user to generate a regional scale vulnerability map of the groundwater in Pietermaritzburg. The vulnerability map generated has the ability to effectively highlight vulnerable areas to groundwater contamination, which is of critical importance in correct land-use planning, as well as in indicating areas of particular concern, where further detailed investigations are needed. The results of such an assessment are used as an input, together with a contamination inventory to assess the potential risk of groundwater pollution in a groundwater risk map. Furthermore, the result informs local decision-makers and enables proactive prevention of groundwater pollution, in accordance with section 13 of the 1998 National Water Act. The intrinsic vulnerability of the Pietermaritzburg region was found to range from low to very high. The area found to be highly vulnerable is the region northeast of Springbank which requires investigation at a local scale.

Abstract

An understanding of the movement of moisture fluxes in the unsaturated zone of waste disposal sites play a critical role in terms of potential groundwater contamination. Increasing attention is being given to the unsaturated or vadose zone where much of the subsurface contamination originates, passes through, or can be eliminated before it contaminates surface and subsurface water resources. As the transport of contaminants is closely linked with the water flux through the unsaturated zone,  any quantitative analysis of contaminant transport must first evaluate water fluxes into and through this region. Mathematical models have often been used as critical tools for the optimal quantification of site-specific subsurface water flow and solute transport processes so as to  enable  the  implementation of management practices that minimize  both surface water  and groundwater pollution. For instance, numerical models have been used in the simulation of water and solute movement in the subsurface for a variety of applications, including the characterisation of unsaturated zone solute transport in waste disposal sites and landfills. In this study, HYDRUS 2D numerical simulation was used to simulate water and salt movement in the unsaturated zone at a dry coal ash disposal site in Mpumalanga, South Africa. The main objective of this work was to determine the flux dynamics within the unsaturated zone of the coal ash medium, so as to develop a conceptual model  that  explains  solute  transport through  the unsaturated  zone  of the coal ash medium for a period of approximately 10 year intervals. Field experiments were carried out to determine the model input parameters and the initial conditions, through the determination of average moisture content, average bulk density and the saturated hydraulic conductivity of the medium. A two-dimensional finite-element mesh of 100 m × 45 m model was used to represent cross  section  of  the  ash  dump.  Two-dimensional  time  lapse  models  showing  the  migration  of moisture fluxes and salt plumes were produced for the coal ash medium. An explanation on the variation of moisture content and cumulative fluxes in the ash dump was done with reference to pre-existing ash dump data, as well as the soil physical characteristics of the ash medium.

Abstract

A quick analysis of spring water quality was conducted in four neighbouring villages, namely Vondo, Matondoni, Maranzhe and Murangoni in Thohoyandou town under the Thulamela Local Municipality (TLM) of the Vhembe District Municipality (VDM). For the purposes of this study these villages will be termed VMMM villages. A study on the spring water quality of VMMM villages was conducted by the CSIR to determine whether the natural quality state of the spring water used by the surrounding communities was suitable for drinking purposes without pre-treatment. From the four springs that were identified in the VMMM villages, namely Tshali (S1), Ramufhufhi (S2), Tshinwela (S3) and Tshivhase (S4), water samples were taken for the quality analyses in the laboratory. The results indicated that S2 and S4 had a high coliform count of 35 and 600 per 100 ml, respectively), that is above  10  counts  per  100 ml.  In  springs  S2  and  S4  the  total  coliform  count  also  displayed  the presence of E.coli (6 and 310 per millilitre, respectively)  – E.coli should not be detected at all according to SANS standard limits (2011). While all other parameters were within standard limits (SANS 241, 2011), it was also interesting to note that both S3 and S4 had a problem of high turbidity (1, 6 and 105 NTU, respectively) compared to 1 NTU which is the standard limit (SANS 241, 2011). These results showed that although these communities relied on groundwater in the form of springs for drinking purposes, unmonitored use of these resources may be a health hazard that has a potential to  result  in disease outbreak  and  unprecedented  deaths. While  groundwater through springs is considered natural, increased activity around the source due to human activity and interference by domestic animals, these sources may be rendered unsafe for drinking purposes without prior treatment. Therefore, there is need for local authorities to put measures in place to monitor water resources considered indigenous and traditional to the communities, especially in areas where these resources have become the main source of water supply for drinking purposes.

Abstract

Sternophysingids are a group of stygobitic amphipods that inhabit groundwater networks characterised by large fractures, cracks and voids, as well as smaller pores, fissures, cavernous openings and interstitial spaces. Two species occurring in Gauteng, South Africa, Sternophysinx filaris and Sternophysinx calceola, were studied using morphological descriptions and molecular analyses to elucidate the distribution, evolutionary history, phylogeny and population structure. The population structure and distribution of stygobitic amphipods is a reflection of the physical structure of groundwater networks, and their evolutionary history can be used to understand the formation of groundwater bodies. S.filaris is a small and common inhabitant of aquifers in the northern regions of the country, while S. calceola occurs in many of the same locations but is much larger and rarer. No morphological differences were observed between individuals of different populations of S. filaris or S. calceola and detailed illustrations have been provided for each. This finding is not believed to be indicative of a high degree of connectivity within the subterranean groundwater network, lending to high rates of gene flow, instead, these morphological similarities are a symptom of cryptic speciation. Sternophysingids are likely to arise from an very ancient and widespread ancestor inhabiting much of Gondwanaland prior to its breakup. Using the COI gene, S. calceola collected from the type locality in Matlapitse Cave was successfully PCR-amplified and sequenced. Phylogenies were constructed using a limited variety of crangonyctoid sequences and the sternophysingids were confirmed to belong to the Crangonyctoidea superfamily, being most closely allied with the Western Australian paramelitids. The relationship between these groups is still distant and ancient; it is expected that the South African paramelitids would be more closely related, as well as other African, Madagascan and Indian crangonyctoids.