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Sci Total Environ. 2014 Oct 15;496:531-550. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.07.063. Epub 2014 Aug 7.

Groundwater flow in a relatively old oceanic volcanic island: the Betancuria area, Fuerteventura Island, Canary Islands, Spain.

Author information

1
Universidad Católica del Norte, Av. Angamos 0610, Antofagasta, Chile. Electronic address: cherrera@ucn.cl.
2
Department of Geo-Engineering, Technical University of Catalonia (UPC), Barcelona, Spain.

Abstract

The island of Fuerteventura is the oldest of the Canary Islands' volcanic archipelago. It is constituted by volcanic submarine and subaerial activity and intrusive Miocene events, with some residual later volcanism and Quaternary volcanic deposits that have favored groundwater recharge. The climate is arid, with an average rainfall that barely attains 60 mm/year in the coast and up to 200 mm/year in the highlands. The aquifer recharge is small but significant; it is brackish due to large airborne atmospheric salinity, between 7 and 15 gm(-2)year(-1) of chloride deposition, and high evapo-concentration in the soil. The average recharge is estimated to be less than about 5 mm/year at low altitude and up to 10 mm/year in the highlands, and up to 20 mm/year associated to recent lava fields. Hydrochemical and water isotopic studies, supported by water table data and well and borehole descriptions, contribute a preliminary conceptual model of groundwater flow and water origin in the Betancuria area, the central area of the island. In general, water from springs and shallow wells tends to be naturally brackish and of recent origin. Deep saline groundwater is found and is explained as remnants of very old marine water trapped in isolated features in the very low permeability intrusive rocks. Preliminary radiocarbon dating indicates that this deep groundwater has an apparent age of less than 5000 years BP but it is the result of mixing recent water recharge with very old deep groundwater. Most of the groundwater flow occurs through the old raised volcanic shield of submarine and subaerial formations and later Miocene subaerial basalts. Groundwater transit time through the unsaturated zone is of a few decades, which allows the consideration of long-term quasi-steady state recharge. Transit times are up to a few centuries through the saturated old volcanics and up to several millennia in the intrusive formations, where isolated pockets of very old water may exist.

KEYWORDS:

Canary Islands; Conceptual hydrogeological model; Fuerteventura Island; Groundwater recharge; Old volcanic island; Spain

PMID:
25108255
DOI:
10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.07.063
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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