Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 72, Issue 5, pp 1615–1623 | Cite as

Aquifer vulnerability using recharge, depth to groundwater, soil type and slope to classify the vadose zone (Molototsi and Middle Letaba quaternary catchments, Limpopo Province, South Africa)

  • Olma T. Makonto
  • Matthys A. DippenaarEmail author
Original Article


The aquifer vulnerability of the Molototsi (B81G) and Middle Letaba (B82D) quaternary catchments was assessed to determine the influence of the vadose zone on the groundwater regime. The aquifer vulnerability was assessed by developing a new method, which evaluates the vadose zone as a pathway for pollutants using the following four parameters: recharge, depth to water table, soil type (saturated vertical hydraulic conductivity) and slope (RDSS). Recharge was estimated using the chloride mass balance method, and the depth to the water table was measured in the field using dipmeter. The seepage behaviour (soil type) was determined as hydraulic conductivity from in situ infiltration and percolation testing (SABS 0252-2:1993 and double ring infiltrometer). The slopes were determined with the digital elevation method using ArcGIS software. The four parameters were overlaid using weighted sum, weighted overlay and raster calculator to produce the vulnerability map. Different weightings were attributed in the methods and the best selected. The results obtained indicated high vulnerability on the lower and upper parts of both catchments. The benefits of the method described are (a) the easy quantification of the parameters through fairly simple methods and (b) the exclusion of arbitrary index values.


Vadose zone Aquifer vulnerability Molototsi Middle Letaba 



The authors wish to thank the National Research Foundation (NRF) for co-funding this research. This work forms part of the project funded by the Water Research Commission (WRC) of South Africa (Report No. KV 243/10).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, Department of GeologyUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaRepublic of South Africa
  2. 2.Council for GeoscienceWater Geoscience Business UnitPretoriaRepublic of South Africa

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