Numerical groundwater flow modeling of the central main Ethiopian Rift lakes basin

  • Tenalem Ayenew Department of Geology and Geophysics, Faculty of Science, Addis Ababa University, PO Box, 1176, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Keywords: Groundwater flow, groundwater modeling, hydrogeology, Rift lakes, water balance


A three dimensional steady-state finite difference numerical groundwater flow model (modflow) was used to study the groundwater-surface water interactions in the Central Main Ethiopian Rift lakes basin. Special emphasis is given to quantifying the groundwater fluxes and the subsurface hydraulic connection of the rift valley lakes. The result shows that despite the geographic proximity of the lakes the groundwater flux is highly variable, mainly owing to geologic factors. The net groundwater flux ranges from 7,011 m 3 /day for Lake Abiyata to 651,022 m 3/day for Lake Shala. The groundwater flow converges from all sides of the basin to the center of the rift where the lakes are clustered, and ultimately to the terminal Lake Shala. Local, intermediate and regional flow systems were identified. The direction and magnitude of the faults have strong bearing on the occurrence and movement of the groundwater. The major flow systems and groundwater flux into the lakes are controlled strongly by rift faults.

SINET: Ethiopian Journal of Science Volume 24, No. 2 (December 2001), pp. 167-184

Key words/phrases: Groundwater flow, groundwater modeling, hydrogeology, Rift lakes, water balance

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2520-7997
print ISSN: 0379-2897