The Quantitative Hydrogeological Mapping of Zebediela Estates, Central Transvaal

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University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
The groundwater system on zebediela Estates, situated along the northern edge of the Springbok Flats in the Central Transvaal, has been studied by physiographic, geologic , geophysical, geochemical, and hydrologic methods . Emphasis has been placed on the subsurface mapping of the spatial distribution patterns of a nvn1ber of hydrogeologic parameters, and computer-based polynomial trend surface analysis has been employed to facilitate the interpretation of the maps. The computer has also been used to determine the general statistics of the frequency distributions of the various parameters and to platform sequential multiple linear regression analysis in an attempt to determine the relationships between the variables . Data arrays of observations, computations, and interpretations have been disp layed in 38 tables in the text and 21 appendices to the text . The distr ibution patterns , in one and two dimensions, have been portrayed in 8 text figures and 117 maps, separate from the t ext. The area studied covers approximate ly 23 square mil es, in which 556, 000 orange trees have been planted on 5800 acres . An average annual amount of 2400 million gallons of water is required to maintain t he operation, and 560 million gallons of this quantity are withdrawn, on the average, each year from boreholes tapping the groundwater resources of the Estates . Up to April, 1969, 315 holes had been drilled, and 151 had become producers at one time or another. In 19 years of exploitation between 1950 and 1968, 10, 600 million gallons of groundwater were withdrawn, at an average rate of 13 million gallons per year per production borehole. The study has shown that the groundwater system supplying this substantial quantity of water consists of two main elements - a piedmont alluvial slope, in which stream channels and paleochannels on coalescing alluvial fans are acting as conduits for the transmistion of water from the intake areas; and an underlying bedrock storage reservoir composed of aquifers of the Transvaal and Karroo sequences . The Malmani dolomite aquifers and the Stormberg basalt aquifers are superior to those of the Wolkberg quartzites, shales, and lavas, and the Stormberg Cave sandstones. It has been possible to distinguish two cycles of Karoo basalts, each of which shows differentiation . The upper cycle is far more important as an aquifer than the lower cycle. The piedmont slope is composed of portions of three alluvial fans , the spines of which have a general southeasterly trend towards the junction of the Nkumpi and Olifant rivers in the valley-flat environment well to the south of the Estates . The upland areas above the apices of the fans embrace the mountain ranges which form the northern rim of the Transvaal Basin, and these uplands have suffered right-lateral movements along extensive east-northeast-trending transcurrent faults which must have continued to be active into recent times in order to displace the stream course on the fans. The fan-head section and portion of the midfan section of the Nkumpi fan, in which the Gompies River is situated, occur over the east-central, eastern, and southeastern parts of the property, and, where underlain by the upper basalt aquifers, constitute the most important source of groundwater on Zebediela Estates. The whole of the fan-head and mid-fan sections of the Mamukebe fan are located in the riorthern, west-central, western, and southwestern localities of the area studied. The fan is much smaller than either of the others, and is underlain by Wolkberg rocks, Cave sandstones, and lower basalts. Its overall groundwater potential is consequently lower than that of either of the other two components of the piedmont slope. Only a very restricted portion of the fan-head section of the Mogoto fan occurs in the extreme northwestern corner of the Estates, where it is underlain by the dolomite aquifer, Its groundwater parameters are consequently very favourable, but the true potential of this fan lies beyond the western boundary of the property. The average yield of boreholes in the upper basalt is 3600 gallons per hour; in the lower basalt, 2000 g.p.h.; in the sandstone, 1500 g.p.h.; in the dolomite, 11,200 g.p.h.; and in the quartzites, 1500 g.p.h. The average yield for all boreholes on the Estates is 4100 gallons per hour. All of these figures are appreciably higher than those for equivalent formations elsewhere in South Africa, testifying to the impoi,tance of the piedmont alluvial slope environment in the overall groundwater system at Zebediela. The average annual recharge of the groundwater reservoirs from all sources has been estimated at 700 million gallons. With the average annual withdrawal being of the order of 560 million gallons, the possibility exists that production from the aquifers can be increased by 25 per cent, without fear of serious, permanent deterioration in the performance of the groundwater system. However, excessive exploitation in times of low recharge might lead to the development of quality h.azards with respect to sodiuum, ehloride, and bicarbonate over the upperbasalts. This possibility does not exist for the remaining aquifers, particularly those in the dolomite, from which relatively pure water is drawn. An added problem in the recharge of the upper basalt aquifer is the contamination of t he groundwater in storage by lithium, brought into the Zebediela groundwater- system by the Nkumpi River, which transmits the element from the granite terrain to the north of the mountainous rim of the Springbok Flats. A new model of groundwater exploration has been devised, based on optimum drilling sites being located where coincidence takes place of piedmont stream channel conduits, dolomite or upper basalt aquifers, and transcurrent fault aquicludes, Results obtained from the employment of this model during two years of drilling subsequent to its development in a preliminary form produced an increase of 14 per cent in the average yield of all boreholes drilled.
Hydrogeological Mapping, Zebediela Estates, Central Transvaal, Groundwater system, Physiographic, Geophysical, Geochemical, Geologic, Nkumpi River, Cave sandstones, Union Catalogue for Thesis and Dissertations (UCTD), Olifant river, Gompies river, Mamukebe fan, Wolkberg rocks, Mogoto fan