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Spring water quality and usability in the Mount Cameroon area revealed by hydrogeochemistry

Abstract

Groundwater is the only reliable water resource for drinking, domestic, and agricultural purposes for the people living in the Mount Cameroon area. Hydrogeochemical and R-mode factor analysis were used to identify hydrogeochemical processes controlling spring water quality and assess its usability for the above uses. Main water types in the study area are Ca–Mg–HCO3 and Na–HCO3. This study reveals that three processes are controlling the spring water quality. CO2-driven silicate weathering and reverse cation exchange are the most important processes affecting the hydrochemistry of the spring waters. While tropical oceanic monsoon chloride-rich/sulfate-rich rainwater seems to affect spring water chemistry at low-altitude areas, strong correlations exist between major ions, dissolved silica and the altitude of springs. In general, the spring waters are suitable for drinking and domestic uses. Total hardness (TH) values indicate a general softness of the waters, which is linked to the development of cardiovascular diseases. Based on Na %, residual sodium carbonate, sodium adsorption ratio, and the USSL classification, the spring waters are considered suitable for irrigation. Though there is wide spread use of chemical fertilizers and intense urban settlements at the lower flanks of the volcano, anthropogenic activities for now seem to have little impact on the spring water quality.

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Acknowledgments

This write-up constitutes part of data generated during the PhD study of the corresponding author, who is supported by the Monbukagakusho Scholarship from MEXT (Japanese Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture). We thank the Ministry of Scientific Research and Innovation (MINRESI) of Cameroon and the Institute for Geological and Mining Research (IRGM) Yaoundé-Cameroon for putting the corresponding author on study leave during his PhD studies. Thanks are also due to the anonymous reviewers of the journal, who helped immensely in rewriting the paper in terms of content and language.

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Ako, A.A., Shimada, J., Hosono, T. et al. Spring water quality and usability in the Mount Cameroon area revealed by hydrogeochemistry. Environ Geochem Health 34, 615–639 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10653-012-9453-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10653-012-9453-3

Keywords

  • Springs
  • Quality
  • Usability
  • Hydrogeochemistry
  • Mount Cameroon
  • Cameroon