Conference Abstracts

All Abstracts were presented at the Groundwater Conferences

Displaying 211 - 220 of 220 results
Title Presenter Name Presenter Surname Area Conference year Keywords


A multi-data integration approach was used to assess groundwater potential in the Naledi Local Municipality located in the North West Province of South Africa. The geology comprised Archaean crystalline basement, carbonate rocks (dolomite and limestone) and windblown sand deposits of the Kalahari Group. The main objective of the study is to evaluate the groundwater resource potential using multi-data integration and environmental isotope approaches. Prior to data integration, weighting coefficients were computed using principal component analysis.

The results of integration of six layers revealed a number of groundwater potential zones. The most significant zone covers ~14% of the study area and is located within carbonate rocks in the southern part of the study area. The localisation of high groundwater potential within carbonate rocks is consistent with the results of principal component analysis that suggests that lithology significantly contributed to the total data variance corresponding to principal component 1. In other words, carbonate rocks consisting of dolomite and limestone largely account for groundwater occurrence in the southern part of the area. In addition, the relatively elevated isotopic signature of tritium (≥1.0 TU)  in  groundwater  samples  located  in  the  southern  part  of  the  area  suggests  a  groundwater recharge   zone.   Furthermore,   moderate-to-good   groundwater   potential   zones   within   the Ventersdorp lava coincide with maximum concentration of fractures, which is consistent with the results of statistical correlation between borehole yield and lineament density. The multi-data integration approach and statistical correlation used in the context of evaluating groundwater resource potential of the area provided a conceptual understanding of hydrogeological parameters that control the development of groundwater in crystalline and carbonate rocks. Such approach is crucial in light of the increasing demand for groundwater arising from municipal water supply and agricultural use. The two approaches are very effective and can be used as a sound scientific basis for understanding groundwater occurrence elsewhere in similar hydrogeological environments.


The effluent at the eMalahleni water reclamation plant is being processed through reverse osmosis which improves the quality of the mine water to potable standards. Brine ponds are generally used for inland brine disposal and this option has been selected for the eMalahleni plant. Limited capacity to store the brines requires enhanced evaporation rates and increased efficiency of the ponds. This study aims to establish the physical behaviour of the brine from the eMalahleni plant in an artificial evaporation environment. This includes the actual brine and synthetic salts based on the major components.

An experimental unit was designed to accommodate and manipulate the parameters that affect the evaporation rate of brines and distilled water under certain scenarios. Two containers, the one filled with 0.5M of NaCl and the other with distilled water were subjected to the same environmental conditions in each experimental cycle. Each container had an area of a 0.25 m² and was fitted with identical sensors and datalogger to record the parameter changes. The energy input was provided by infra-red lights and wind-aided electrical fans. This equipment used in these experiments was to simulate actual physical environmental conditions. 

The rate of evaporation was expected to be a function of humidity, wind, radiation, salinity and temperature. The experiments showed the type of salt and thermo-stratification of the pond to be significant contributors to the evaporation rate. The results also showed that the NaCl solution absorbed more heat than the water system. The difference in evaporation observed was ascribed to a difference in the heat transfer rate, which resulted in a higher temperature overall in the brine container than in the water container under similar applied conditions. This effect remained despite the introduction of 2 m/s wind flow over the tanks as an additional parameter. The wind factor seemed to delay evaporation due to its chilling effect upon the upper layers of the ponds, initially hindering the effective transfer of radiative heat into the ponds.



The Heuningvlei pipeline scheme was built in the 1980s to supply water to rural communities in a low rainfall area (<300 mm/annum) – Northern Cape Province. In 2008, the Joe Morolong Local Municipality identified the need to refurbish and upgrade the pipeline scheme for socio-economic reasons. The safe yield and water quality information of existing sources supplying the scheme was unreliable. This was investigated by borehole test pumping and water quality sampling, which indicated reduced yields and deteriorating water quality since 1989.

Water demands, which includes supply to communities for domestic use, schools, clinics and stock watering in the Heuningvlei area, was estimated at 2 380 m3/day or 868 700 m3/annum. The potable groundwater  supply  recommended  from  11  existing  boreholes  is  316 937 m3/annum,  leaving  a deficit of 551 763 m3. The aquifers utilised for the existing water supply comprise fractured banded iron formations (BIF) and dolomite bedrock. Kalahari sedimentary and dolomite aquifers to the east of the pipeline scheme contain high saline water not suitable for domestic use.

No surface water sources exist in the area and the feasibility of the socio-economic development project depends on establishing local groundwater resources that would not impact on existing sources. A target area was identified which is approximately 10 km south from the pipeline. This area is covered by the thick Kalahari sediments (up to 130 m) underlain by dolomite bedrock with a potable groundwater balance of 2.3 million m3/a. Both the associated primary (Kalahari) and secondary (Dolomite) aquifers contain potable water. The target area was not investigated in the past due to perceived poor water quality (elevated salinity) conditions, very low (<10 %) borehole exploitability prospect and difficult drilling conditions.

The paper will discuss the importance of recharge estimate and understanding of flow regime at sub-catchment and local scale, use of an airborne magnetic survey in conjunction with ground geophysics, mapping of Kalahari sediment thickness, and successful drilling of exploration boreholes to exploit the deeper Kalahari sedimentary and dolomite bedrock aquifers. The successful development of localised potable water in a low rainfall area made it feasible to implement the Heuningvlei socio-economic development project.


One of the critical elements of water resource management is the dynamic exchange between groundwater and surface water. Quantifying this exchange strongly relies on an adequate characterisation of the lithological architecture of the involved aquifer system. In the past, this characterisation often relied on lithological data obtained through invasive methods. However, given the spatial heterogeneity of the subsurface, these methods do not provide the density of sampling required for an accurate ‘‘image’’ of the large‐scale architecture of the aquifer system, leading to large uncertainties in the variations and continuities of subsurface structure. These uncertainties inevitably lead to inaccuracies in the conceptual geohydrological model, thereby diminishing the prospects of an accurate assessment of the groundwater–surface water interaction. In order to limit the uncertainties, the results of electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) surveys conducted on a  site  near  the  Krugersdrift  Dam in the Free State Province of South Africa  were used to make inferences   regarding  the   prevailing  geohydrological  conditions.  The   resistivity  models   were compared to borehole logs from existing boreholes to produce a refined model of the subsurface architecture related to groundwater–surface water interactions.


Historically groundwater exploration consisted of reconnaissance geophysical surveys followed by detail ground surveys. Where no potentially water-bearing geological structures are shown on geological maps and aerial photos, the project area would be divided into a grid on which the ground geophysical survey would be done. This type of exploration is time-consuming and expensive. In some cases the terrain or cultural noise prohibits the use of conventional geophysical methods, with only more expensive and time-consuming methods being left as an option. This is where the high resolution airborne magnetic survey excels. The results obtained from this type of survey are of such a nature that ground geophysical surveys are only performed where potential drilling targets were identified  from  the  aerial  survey.  Not  only  can  there  be  cost-  and  time-savings  on  ground geophysical surveys, but drilling of dry boreholes can be limited, which makes up the largest cost component of a groundwater exploration project. This paper will discuss successes achieved using high resolution aeromagnetic surveys as the basis for groundwater exploration in traditionally low- yielding igneous geology.


The aim of this project was to establish a detailed geohydrological database and monitoring network for  the  karst  aquifer  within  the  boundaries  of  the  Vanrhynsdorp  Water  User  Association.  An adequate monitoring network is necessary for the Vanrhynsdorp Water User Association to implement sustainable water use management as well as for the Department Water Affairs to ensure its mandate as trustee of all water resources. Hydrocensus projects were conducted in phases as the project escalated from historic town supply during 1978 towards a catchment driven water user association after implementation of the new National Water Act in October 1998 (Act 36 of 1998). With the successive hydrocensuses conducted, the monitoring network also evolved in regard to area monitored, point locations, monitoring schedules and parameters measured. Hydrocensus data were captured on the National Groundwater Archive, time series data on the Hydstra database and chemical analysis on the Water Management System. Time series graphs were compiled to analyse the monitoring data and to create a conceptual model of the karst aquifer. The study showed a general decline in groundwater levels and quality in the study area. The conclusion is that the aquifer is over exploited. It is recommended that an extensive management plan is developed and implemented to ensure sustainable use of this sensitive water resource. The installation and monitoring of flow meters on all production boreholes should be seen as urgent and stipulated as such in licensing conditions. This will ensure the effective management and regulation of this valuable groundwater resource.


Gold mining on the Witwatersrand has started in the late nineteenth century as sporadic open cast mining and ceased in the late twentieth century, leaving a complex network of haulages, tunnels and ultra-deep vertical shafts/sub-vertical shafts. At least three ore bodies (conglomeritic horizons) were mined down to a depth in excess of 3 000 m from surface. Three large mining basins resulted from the mining methodology applied, namely the Western, Central and Eastern (Rand) Basins.

In  the  early  days  of  mining  on  the  Witwatersrand  reefs,  gold  mine  companies  realised  that dewatering of their mine workings is required to secure mining operations at deeper levels and decades of pumping and treatment of pumped mine water followed. As the majority of deep gold mines on the Witwatersrand ceased operations since 1970, the deeper portions of the mine voids became flooded and led to a new era in the mining history in the Witwatersrand.

Rewatering of the mine voids is a combination between excessive surface water ingress generated by surface runoff, and to lesser degree recharge from an overlying fractured and weathered aquifer system (where developed). The flow regime in the mine voids from a scattering of ingress/direct recharge points and single discharge points are complex and is driven by shallow (<100 m) and probably deep (>1 000 m) man-made preferential pathways.

The high concentrations of iron sulphide minerals (pyrite. for example FeS2) content, three percent (by weight), of the mined reefs/backfilled stopes and surrounding waste rock piles/tailings dams mobilised significant levels of sulphates (SO4) and ferrous iron (Fe2+) producing an acidic mine-void water (<3 pH).

Monitoring of the rewatering mine void hydrological regime became necessary following the first acid-mine water decant from a borehole in the West Rand Basin, and the Department initiated a mine-void water table elevation trend and water quality monitoring programme. Results from this monitoring programme will be illustrated and discussed in this paper with some views on the future water quality and discharge scenarios.


Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT) surveys were conducted in the Kruger National park (KNP) as part of a recent Water Research Commission project (titled: Surface water, groundwater and vadose zone interactions in selected pristine catchments in the Kruger National Park). The surveys were carried out in a pristine ephemeral third-order supersite catchment, namely the southern granite (Stevenson Hamilton). This supersite is representative of the southern granite region of KNP as it covers part of the dominant geology, rainfall gradient and dominant land system.

Electrical   resistivity   profiling   provided   valuable   data   on   the   subsurface  geological   material distribution and results depended on soil/rock properties, water content and salinity. The purpose of electrical surveys was to characterise the hydrogeological components of weathering and depth to water level using the subsurface resistivity distribution. The ground resistivity is related to various geological parameters such as the mineral and fluid content, porosity and degree of water saturation in the rock.

Based on the initial ERT survey interpretations, boreholes were drilled providing actual subsurface results in the form of borehole drilling logs, water levels, hydraulic data and in situ groundwater quality  parameters.  Integrating  the  ERT  survey  data  with  the  results  from  the  intrusive  survey enabled an updated conceptualisation of groundwater flow characteristics and distribution across the southern granite supersite.


The Sagole hot spring is located in the northern Limpopo Province of South Africa. Investigations were carried out in order to investigate the groundwater aquifer and water chemistry. Results were envisaged to the understanding of the geothermal potential of the area. Regional scale airborne magnetic data and geology were used for identifying structures and lithological boundaries that are associated with thermal groundwater aquifers. Detailed ground follow-up and verification surveys were  carried  out  across  the  target,  using  magnetic,  electrical  resistivity  tomography  (ERT), frequency-domain electromagnetic (FDEM) and radiometric methods. Water samples were collected from the spring eye and archival groundwater data was analysed. The interpretation of the airborne magnetic data revealed the presence of west to east, northwest and intersecting lineaments at the hot spring. From magnetic data, the groundwater aquifer was found to be capped by basalt with heat rising to the surface along possible geological contacts, faults or fractures. The FDEM profile data across the aquifer zone had peak values above 100 mS/m. The inversion of ERT data defined a highly electrical conductive, low resistivity with thickness of about 60 m. Chemical analysis of the ground water revealed that the water does not have any indication of pollution. The thermal water was found to be of meteoric origin. The drilling of artesian thermal boreholes through the capping basalt should be explored. The hot-water boreholes will be utilised by the community for domestic, irrigation and possible development of micro-geothermal systems.


This paper was presented at the GWD Central Branch Symposium, Potchefstroom in 2012

Numerical modelling of hydrogeological systems has progressed significantly with the evolution of technology and the development of a greater understanding of hydrogeology and the underlying mathematical principles. Hydrogeological modelling software can now include complex geological layers and models as well as allow the pinching out of geological features and layers. The effects of a complex geology on the hydraulic parameters determined by numerical modelling is investigated by means of the DHI-WASY FEFLOW and Aranz Geo Leapfrog modelling software packages.

The Campus Test Site (CTS) at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa was selected as the locale to be modelled. Being one of the most studied aquifers in the world, the CTS has had multiple research projects performed on it and as a result ample information is available to construct a hydrogeological model with a high complexity. The CTS consists primarily of stacked fluvial channel deposits of the Lower Beaufort Group, with the main waterstrike located on a bedding-plane fracture in the main sandstone aquifer.

The investigation was performed by creating three distinct hydrogeological models of the CTS, the first consists entirely of simplified geological strata modelled in FEFLOW by means of average layer thicknessand does not include the pinching out of any geological layers. The second model was created to be acopy of the first, however the bedding-plane fracture can pinch out where it is known to not occur. The third and final model consisted of a complex geological model created in Leapfrog Geo which was subsequently exported to FEFLOW for hydrogeological modelling.