The Chambo river basin, in central Ecuador, belongs to the watershed of the upper Pastaza, a major north-western tributary of the Amazon. It is a densely inhabited region, where the drinkable water infrastructures of the cities existing within the basin exclusively rely on the groundwater extracted from the Chambo aquifer. The results thrown by a study based on the use of the 14C isotopes as groundwater tracers, accompanied by an overall scarcity of scientific knowledge about this hydrological system, have lead the local communities and decision makers to think that the Chambo aquifer is fossil. In this study we demonstrate that the Chambo aquifer is actually recharged over time, providing an estimate of the recharge, and showing that it is caused by the ongoing melting of the glaciers existing on top of the Chimborazo volcano. Such a scenario is compatible with the 14C analysis, which showed that the aquifer groundwater is about 8000 years old, and suggests that a lateral water inflow actually feeds the Chambo aquifer, highlighting the present influence of the global climate change on the future water availability in central Ecuador.

Hydrogeological modeling of the groundwater recharge feeding the Chambo aquifer, Ecuador

Chidichimo F.;De Biase M.;Catelan P.;Straface S.;Di Gregorio S.
2018

Abstract

The Chambo river basin, in central Ecuador, belongs to the watershed of the upper Pastaza, a major north-western tributary of the Amazon. It is a densely inhabited region, where the drinkable water infrastructures of the cities existing within the basin exclusively rely on the groundwater extracted from the Chambo aquifer. The results thrown by a study based on the use of the 14C isotopes as groundwater tracers, accompanied by an overall scarcity of scientific knowledge about this hydrological system, have lead the local communities and decision makers to think that the Chambo aquifer is fossil. In this study we demonstrate that the Chambo aquifer is actually recharged over time, providing an estimate of the recharge, and showing that it is caused by the ongoing melting of the glaciers existing on top of the Chimborazo volcano. Such a scenario is compatible with the 14C analysis, which showed that the aquifer groundwater is about 8000 years old, and suggests that a lateral water inflow actually feeds the Chambo aquifer, highlighting the present influence of the global climate change on the future water availability in central Ecuador.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11770/314228
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