Franšais      print      e-mail    


B. Ngounou Ngatcha, J. Mudry, J. F. Aranyossy, E. Naah & J. Sarrot Reynault (2007). Contribution of geology, hydrogeology and environmental isotopes to the knowledge of ‘‘piezometric depressions’’ of the Grand Yaere (Northern Cameroon). Rev. Sci. Eau 20 (1) : 29-43. [article in French]

Original title: Apport de la géologie, de l’hydrogéologie et des isotopes de l’environnement à la connaissance des «nappes en creux» du Grand Yaéré (Nord Cameroun).

Full text (PDF)


Piezometric depressions, common in sub-Saharan Africa, are major hydrogeological anomalies manifested by closed curves, pronounced hollows and dips attaining several tens of meters below the regional water table level. The Logone-Chari-Chad piezometric map reveals piezometric anomalies that have been interpreted as depressed aquifers. The depth of the water table is 60 m in the Tagawa-Am Talia axis, 40 m between Louba-Louba and Andirni and 30 m around Yagoua. Factors linked to evaporation are generally thought to be responsible for these depressed zones.

The objective of this study (based on the saturated zone) was: 1) to place the Logone-Chari-Chad piezometric anomalies in their hydrogeological settings, and 2) to evaluate the use of environmental isotopes to explain their formation processes. To achieve our goal, 27 water supply points (8 boreholes and 19 wells) were selected from the borders and centre of the Logone-Chari-Chad depression. Samples were collected between 1989 and 1991. Measurements performed in the field involved static water levels, whereas the laboratory analyses 18O, 2H and 3H were performed at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) laboratory in Vienna, within the framework of the project RAF/8/012 funded by IAEA.

The new geological and hydrogeological data demonstrate that in the depressed zone of the piezometric surface, the aquifer has two layers. In contrast, the Logone-Chari-Chad piezometric map was previously drawn considering the aquifer as a single-layer. From a hydrochemical point of view, the groundwater in the Logone-Chari-Chad aquifer is stratified: calcium bicarbonate type water was found at the surface (shallow groundwater), whereas sodium carbonate type water was found at depth (deeper groundwater).

Seasonal piezometric fluctuations of 1.5 to 3 m have been observed in the shallow groundwater. In the deeper groundwater, they range from 0.20 to 0.30 m. The difference in the values of water table fluctuation leads not only to variations in the mode of groundwater circulation, but also to variations in the hydrodynamic properties of aquifers, such as transmissivity.

The distribution in stable isotope contents (18O, 2H and 3H) confirmed the compartmentalization of aquifers. The correlation between 3H and 18O showed that there are two water types, with different recharge modes and episodes. On the border of the depression, shallow groundwater pinches out on the semi-permeable substratum, resulting in a tritium content greater than 4 UT. In the depression axis, there is deeper groundwater with a tritium content below 4 UT.

The relationship between 2H and 18O shows that the enrichment effects of evaporation at the time of recharge are very pronounced only in the shallow groundwater, where the static level does not exceed 20 m below the soil surface. The closed piezometric depressions, whose deepest point attains 60 m below the soil surface, cannot be explained by the presence of intense evaporation. The variation in tritium content with respect to the static level shows that in the depressed zone, the first 20 m are characterized by a tritium content greater than 4 UT, whereas at depths of 30 m or more, tritium contents are lower than 4 UT.

The absence of dependence between shallow and deep piezometric levels invalidates the interpretation of great water depths proposed in previous studies of the piezometric depression of the Logone-Chari-Chad water table. Thus, the hypothesis that the Logone-Chari-Chad is a single-layer system should be abandoned. The future construction of the piezometric map of the Logone-Chari-Chad water table should take into account the structure and lithology of the two superimposed layer.


Cameroon, Grand Yaéré, depressed groundwater, hydrogeology, isotopes, evaporation.

Corresponding author

B. Ngounou Ngatcha, Département des Sciences de la Terre, Faculté des Sciences, Université de Ngaoundéré, BP 454 Ngaoundéré, Cameroun.

Email :

Franšais      print      e-mail    

Update: 2007-05-23
© INRS Eau, Terre et Environnement