Africa Groundwater Atlas launched officially

Alan MacDonald, Brighid Ó Dochartaigh and Kirsty Upton of BGS introduced the new Africa Groundwater Atlas, which has been funded through the UPGro programme.

Alan explained that it was a scientific paper with a continental overview of aquifers in Africa that attracted publicity that helped to unlock funding for a fuller Atlas, with a wikipedia style gateway for every country, a grey literature archive, a book version of the Atlas and a collection of long term groundwater records, also called ‘chronicles’.

Grey Literature Archive
The online archive has over 6,000 references. Keyword and tags are important way of enabling users to find what they want – and the system has been carefully designed to be multilingual.

In addition, many of the reports are georeferenced and appear on an online map. Some are points, some are squares (usually from 100km2 to country level).

Can BGS guarantee the quality of the documents? No, but the information is curated in such a way that the most important reports for a particular topic or country are highlighted.

Information from all over Africa has been gathered, however more is always welcome, particularly from North Africa.

Country-by-country Atlas: online and book
The Atlas will appear online as a wiki-site that can be edited as by users. Why not use Wikipedia? You want the Atlas to be cited in the scientific literature, so it needs stricter editorial control. By 2016 a printed book will be available through IAH publishing.

Environmental data has been pulled together from many freely available databases on soil, climate, topography and hydrology. This is then combined with the hydrogeological data to give an overall picture of groundwater resources for every African country.

BGS have been systematic for every country, but the simplified groundwater maps can be annotated by hydrogeologists in the country to highlight the main aquifers. Set up a framework of hydrogeological environments. National hydrologists can split those into aquifers as per their methdologies and definitions. Multi-level aquifers are a problem to represent.

The input from national hydrogeologists is important. The incentive to be involved is contributing is making it better and getting recognition on the website and in the country chapter in the IAH book.

Atlas in book form will have 5 year shelf life by which time it will be ready for a new edition based on the updated website version.

The Archive can be accessed here