Environmental Geology

, Volume 54, Issue 6, pp 1313–1324 | Cite as

The distribution and hydrogeological controls of fluoride in the groundwater of central Ethiopian rift and adjacent highlands

Original Article


Occurrence of fluoride (F) in groundwater has drawn worldwide attention, since it has considerable impact on human health. In Ethiopia high concentrations of F in groundwaters used for community water supply have resulted in extensive dental and skeletal fluorosis. As a part of a broader study, the distribution of F in groundwater has been investigated, and compared with bedrock geology and pertinent hydrochemical variables. The result indicates extreme spatial variations. High F concentration is often associated with active and sub-active regional thermal fields and acidic volcanics within high temperature rift floor. Variations in F can also be related to changes in calcium concentration resulting from dissolution of calcium minerals and mixing with waters of different chemical composition originated from variable hydrogeological environment across the rift valley. The concentration of F dramatically declines from the rift towards the highlands with the exception of scattered points associated with thermal springs confined in local volcanic centers. There are also interactions of F-rich alkaline lakes and the surrounding groundwater. Meteoric waters recharging volcanic aquifers become enriched with respect to F along the groundwater flow path from highland recharge areas to rift discharge areas. Locally wells drilled along large rift faults acting as conduits of fresh highland waters show relatively lower F. These areas are likely to be possible sources of better quality waters within the rift. The result of this study has important implications on site selection for water well drilling.


Ethiopian rift Flourosis Fluoride Groundwater Volcanic rocks Water quality 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesAddis Ababa UniversityAddis AbabaEthiopia

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