Climate change has led to an increase in extreme weather events and desertification of vast areas of southern Argentina. Water shortages are a major concern, and this problem is expected to be exacerbated in the future. An exploration program was undertaken to investigate the groundwater occurrence in areas of the Chubut River basin in order to provide new supply options for pastoral farming. The investigation involved the drilling of exploration holes and construction of bores for long-term monitoring. Water quality and hydraulic test data were also collected. Findings from the study indicate that alluvial sediments extend to a maximum of 45 m below the surface, and are underlain by a sequence of clays and subordinated sands that exceed 100 m in thickness. The bulk of groundwater lies within the shallow sediments, which act as an unconfined aquifer. Hydraulic conductivities up to 10 m/day were estimated from pumping tests, although granulometric analyses indicate that higher values may occur. Chemical characterization indicates that waters are typically fresh, low in sodium, and largely suitable for stock-grazing or horticulture. Anomalous salinities at one of the sites are likely due to the effects of a nearby waste dump. Even though further work is required, the study contributes to a better understanding of the dynamics of the hydrogeological system in the basin under a warming climate, and provides useful information for the expansion of economic activities in remote communities of Argentina.
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