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Caractérisation des facteurs de contrôle de la recharge et des écoulements souterrains à différentes échelles de temps en zone de piedmont aride et hyper-aride : exemple de l'aquifère de la Pampa del Tamarugal (Nord Chili)

Abstract : In drylands, the scarcity of surface waters has led the population to mainly extract the groundwater resource for water supply. To preserve the groundwater resource of the over-exploitation, the understanding of the groundwater recharge processes is required. The present work aims to assess the factors of control on both the groundwater recharge and the groundwater circulation in dryland piedmonts.In Northern Chile, since a few tens of years, mining activities and the associated population movements have induced an over-exploitation of the Pampa del Tamarugal Aquifer. This regional size aquifer is one of the main groundwater resources of Northern Chile as a whole.In order to assess the controls on the groundwater recharge processes that allow recharging the Pampa del Tamarugal Aquifer as well as the groundwater circulation in the Andean Piedmont, a multidisciplinary approach was carried out in the endorheic catchment of the Pampa del Tamarugal (i.e. lowlands and piedmont) between 19.5°S and 20°S. Firstly, the study is based on a geological and geomorphological assessment of the Central Depression sedimentary basin with a focus on the Andean Piedmont. This work allowed identifying the control of the pre-Oligocene bedrock on both the late-Cenozoic piedmont cover (i.e. alluvial drainage axis, sedimentary barriers, and paleovalleys) and the groundwater circulation. Secondly, a hydrogeophysical (resistivity soundings, via TDEM) and hydrogeological characterization of the vadose zone and the saturated zone of the aquifer was carried out. These measurements allowed identifying a well-defined contrast of resistivity that is correlated with the water-table. This allows to better define the boundary conditions of the aquifer and to shift eastwards (i.e. in the piedmont) the oriental limit of the aquifer. Hydrological surveys allowed to validate the identification of groundwater recharge areas where the rivers fed the aquifer. Thirdly, the study is based on the assessment of the geochemical, isotopic and dissolved gas content of the groundwater. This approach allowed identifying the origin and also the groundwater circulation of the aquifer. The characterization of the groundwater distribution ages allowed to identify the main stages of recharge during Holocene and late-Pleistocene times. Fourthly, an exploratory approach was carried out in order to address the recharge fluxes in the vadose zone. Based on Hydrus-1D model and soil sampling carried out in the field, the recharge fluxes induced by one flood in the alluvial fans were estimated. The behavior analysis of water-table on time series of a few years were also used to estimate the recharge in the lower part of alluvial fans according to the surface geomorphology features.Based on this multidisciplinary approach, these works (performed in Northern Chile) allow defining the controls on the groundwater recharge and circulation in arid and hyperarid piedmont areas.
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Benoît Viguier. Caractérisation des facteurs de contrôle de la recharge et des écoulements souterrains à différentes échelles de temps en zone de piedmont aride et hyper-aride : exemple de l'aquifère de la Pampa del Tamarugal (Nord Chili). Hydrologie. Université Montpellier, 2016. Français. ⟨NNT : 2016MONTT180⟩. ⟨tel-01689972⟩

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