Surface and groundwater hydrochemistry of the Menengai caldera geothermal field and surrounding Nakuru County, Kenya

Nelly Montcoudiol, Neil M. Burnside, Domokos Györe, Nicholas Mariita, Thecla Mutia, Adrian Boyce

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2 Citations (Scopus)
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In order to assess the sustainability and impact of production from geothermal reservoirs on hydrological systems, a thorough understanding of local and regional hydrogeological systematics is a prerequisite. The Menengai Caldera in the Kenya Great Rift Valley is one of the largest explored geothermal fields in the country. This paper presents a hydrochemical investigation of the Menengai Caldera geothermal field and the ground and surface waters of the surrounding Nakuru County. Our results demonstrated a similar, sodium-alkaline dominated, ionic composition across all water types. Geothermal wells return the highest cation/anion concentrations and largely demonstrate a meteoric source from their δ18O and δ2H signature. Wells MW-09 (central part of the caldera), MW-18 (eastern part) and MW-20 (central part) showed a more evaporitic signature, closely matching with our own calculated Lake Evaporation Line, suggesting an increased mixing influence of Lake Nakuru waters. MW-09 also showed evidence of high-temperature oxygen isotopic exchange and significant water-rock interaction. Lake samples largely demonstrated seasonal shifts in ionic and isotopic values. Lake Nakuru ionic composition and isotopic values increased throughout the 12-month wet-dry-wet season sampling period. This correlated with a decrease in area which suggests a lessening of water inflow and facilitates increased evaporation. Groundwaters demonstrated clear evidence of mixing between meteoric, irrigation and lake waters. These observations enhanced the understanding of the hydrological system surrounding the Menengai Caldera and, when combined with future studies, will provide a powerful tool to assess the sustainability and impact of soon-to-be completed geothermal power production operations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3131
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2019


  • East Africa
  • geothermal
  • hydrochemistry
  • hydrology
  • Kenya
  • Menengai Caldera
  • Nakuru
  • water


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