EGU21-7800, updated on 04 Mar 2021
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Hydrogeochemical modelling of origin, evolution and mechanisms controlling water resources quality in the Pra Basin (Ghana)

Evans Manu1,2, Michael Kühn1,2, Thomas Kempka1,2, Tatiana Goldberg1, Andrea Vieth-Hillebrand1, and Oliver Rach1
Evans Manu et al.
  • 1German Research Center for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany
  • 2University of Potsdam, Institute of Geosciences, Potsdam Germany

Understanding the geochemistry of water resources is a prerequisite in the development of sustainable water resource management strategies. The Pra Basin is one of the few basins in Ghana with economic importance. The Basin is constituted by three river systems (Birim, Offin and Pra) and covers a total land size of approximately 2,300 km2. It traverses several towns and serves as the main water supply for communities and industry. Currently, the quality of water resources in the Pra Basin especially surfacewaters have been affected negatively as a result of activities such as illegal mining (e.g., the use of mercury for the extraction of gold), indiscriminate waste disposal, and poor farm management practices (e.g., inappropriate application of fertilizers and pesticides). Specific contaminants include mercury (Hg), arsenic (As), lead (Pb), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), cadmium (Cd), selenium (Se), and nitrate (NO3). The Pra Basin is underlain by three rock formations, the Birimian Supergroup, the Tarkwain Formation and the granitoids. The mineral composition of the Birimian Supergroup comprises argillitic/pellitic sediment (plus or minus kerogen), sericite schist, and quartz-sericite schist. The granitoids comprise biotite (hornblende, muscovite), biotite gneiss, biotite schist, amphibolite partly of contact metamorphism, K-feldspar rich granitoid, two-mica or muscovite granite and monzonite, serecite schist, quartz-serecite, and garnet. The Tarkwaian rocks mineralogy also includes basaltic flow/subvolcanic rock and minor interbedded volcaniclastics, detrital sediment mainly sandstone and conglomerate ultramafic and minor mafic igneous rock. Samples of groundwater were collected from shallow (mainly hand-dug wells of depths < 10 m) and deep (mainly boreholes of depths >30 m) aquifers across the Pra Basin. Surfacewaters were collected from rivers and stream networks.  The samples were analysed for major ions, trace metals and stable isotopes (oxygen-18 and deuterium) using Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometry (ICP-OES), Ion Chromatography (IC), and Picarro L-2140i Ringdown Spectrometer at the GFZ laboratories. Multivariate statistical analysis and inverse geochemical modelling have been applied to around 100 water samples sourced from boreholes, hand-dug wells, and rivers of the Pra Basin to determine the chemical state of the waters. Specifically, the study seeks to (1) determine the origin and evolution of the geochemistry of both surfacewater and groundwater, (2) identify recharge and discharge areas, and (3) study sources and sinks of minerals including sulphates, carbonates, and silicates. The abundance of cations and anions are in the order of Na>Ca>K>Mg and HCO3>Cl>SO4>NO3 (surfacewater), Na>Ca>Mg>K and HCO3>Cl>NO3>SO4 (hand-dug well), and Na>Ca>Mg>K, and HCO3>Cl>NO3>SO4 (boreholes). Our research findings demonstrate that geochemistry of water resources in the Pra Basin is mainly controlled by rock-water interaction. With the application of hydrogeochemical modelling, including silicate mineral weathering and ion exchange, significant processes controlling the basin’s hydrochemistry variations are quantified. The presented results will support the development of sustainable water resources management strategies and contribute to mitigating future contamination.

How to cite: Manu, E., Kühn, M., Kempka, T., Goldberg, T., Vieth-Hillebrand, A., and Rach, O.: Hydrogeochemical modelling of origin, evolution and mechanisms controlling water resources quality in the Pra Basin (Ghana), EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-7800,, 2021.


Display file