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Open AccessArticle

Hydrogeology of a Complex Aquifer System in Semi-Arid Mountainous Region: The Eastern Upper Guir Basin in the High Atlas (Morocco)

1
Faculty of Sciences & Technics, GMEE Team of Geological Department, University of Moulay Ismail, Meknes 50050, Morocco
2
Faculty of Applied and Fundamental Sciences, University of Poitiers, UMR 7285 CNRS IC2MP, 86000 Poitiers, France
3
Guir-Ziz-Rheris Hydraulic Basin Agency, Av. Moulay Ali Cherif BP 18, Errachidia 52000, Morocco
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2020, 12(10), 2849; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102849
Received: 28 June 2020 / Revised: 1 October 2020 / Accepted: 4 October 2020 / Published: 13 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Groundwater Resilience to Climate Change and High Pressure)
The eastern part of Morocco, surrounded by the High Atlas chain close to Errachidia, represents a very sensitive area in a semi-arid context. Average annual rainfall does not exceed 300 mm/year. Most of the regional water resources are linked to the aquifer systems in the Atlas area. The study site coincides with the Eastern Upper Guir Basin, one of the main rivers in Eastern Morocco. This basin is located close to the eastern border of the Moroccan High Atlas. The geology of the basin consists mainly of Jurassic and Cretaceous formations. The structure of the basin is strongly affected by the Atlasian tectonics. This results in successive large synclines separated by major W-E faults. The hydrogeological system of the basin is accordingly constituted by sub-basins associated with each syncline and separated by faulted anticlines, whose overlapping faults act as semi-impermeable barriers. This compartmentalization causes the very complex functioning of the whole system. The study undertaken, based on structural, meteorological, hydrogeological, hydrochemical and isotopic data, allowed us to advance significantly in the understanding of this system. The compartments behave as hydrogeological sub-units but remain interdependent on each other. The recharge of the aquifer system is essentially associated with the rains and snowfalls at high altitudes. This is consistent with the stable isotope results. Important development projects are planned in this region, associated with a drastic increase in water demands. Groundwater suitability was assessed using the WHO standards for drinking purposes and the SAR (sodium adsorption ratio) for irrigation. Complementary investigations should be considered to further the results presented here and move towards a quantitative assessment and management of the water resources. View Full-Text
Keywords: Upper Guir Basin; mountainous aquifer system; water resource; hydrochemistry; semi-arid climate; stable and radio isotopes; water suitability; High Atlas; Morocco Upper Guir Basin; mountainous aquifer system; water resource; hydrochemistry; semi-arid climate; stable and radio isotopes; water suitability; High Atlas; Morocco
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Abdelfadel, F.; Hilali, M.; Fontaine, C.; El Albani, A.; Mahboub, A.; Eloy, L.; Labanowski, J.; Benaissi, L.; Razack, M. Hydrogeology of a Complex Aquifer System in Semi-Arid Mountainous Region: The Eastern Upper Guir Basin in the High Atlas (Morocco). Water 2020, 12, 2849.

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