Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Ground-water hydrology of the Chad Basin in Bornu and Dikwa Emirates, northeastern Nigeria, with special emphasis on the flow life of the artesian system

January 1, 1968

Bornu and Dikwa Emirates lie in the Nigerian sector of the Chad Basin, a vast region of interior drainage encompassing about 600,000 square miles of north-central Africa. The report area includes about 25,000 square miles of the basin that lie in Nigeria. Most of the area is a featureless plain that slopes gently northeast and east from the uplands of central Nigeria towards Lake Chad. On its eastern side the lake has one surface outlet which overflows only during exceptionally high stages of the lake. This outlet spills into the channel of Bahr al Ghazal, which in turn drains into the Bod616 depression. Because the lake is shallow, the shoreline fluctuates markedly with high and low stages corresponding to the wet and dry seasons. The semiarid climate of Bornu and Dikwa Emirates is characterized by a long dry season and a short wet season that correspond to seasonal winds. Annual rainfall ranges from 15 inches in the northern part of the area to 32 inches in the southern.

The Chad Basin in Dikwa and Bornu Emirates is underlain by interbedded sand and clay, collectively termed the Chad Formation. These alluvial and lactustrine sediments were deposited in or near Lake Chad whet it occupied a much greater area during Pliocene and Pleistocene time. The Chad Formation has a very slight primary dip in the direction of Lake Chad and conforms to the gentle slope of land surface. The known thickness of the formation ranges from a few feet where it overlies bedrock on the periphery of the basin to at least 1,800 feet at Maiduguri; however, its total thickness probably exceeds 2,000 feet in the central part of the basin.

Three water-bearing units termed upper, middle, and lower zones occur within the Chad Formation. The upper zone yields water to numerous dug wells throughout the rural areas and also is .the major source of the Maiduguri municipal water .supply. The middle zone yields water from flowing artesian boreholes that have heads ranging from a few feet to 70 feet above land surface throughout a 13,000 square-mile area of the basin in Nigeria. The lower zone also yields water from flowing boreholes ; however, its areal extent has not been proved beyond the environs of Maiduguri.

The present investigation is concerned primarily with the middle zone, which is the source of water for some 190 flowing boreholes used as little-watering points in the Nigerian sector of the Chad Basin. The thickness of loads of waterbearing sand in the middle zone ranges from less than 1 foot to 200 feet, and the artesian head ranges from land surface at Maiduguri to 70 feet above land surface at Lake Chad. The depth to the top of the middle zone in the area of flowing boreholes ranges from 500 to 1,250 feet below land surface. The waterbearing properties of the middle zone differ greatly from place to place. Also, the yields of individual flowing boreholes generally range from 50 to 20,000 imperial gallons per hour (gph). On the basis of water availability, the middle zone can be divided as follows : Areas of high-, moderate-, and low-yield artesian aquifer ; areas of low- and moderate-yield subartesian aquifer ; and an area where the yields from boreholes are insignificant or the aquifer is missing. Recommended maximum rates of long-term withdrawal from individual boreholes for the three artesian areas range from 100 to 5,000 gph with boreholes spaced 5 to 10 miles apart. By limiting flows to the recommended maximum rates, the boreholes should continue to flow for at least 30 years. The present average use per borehole (265 gph in 1965) is considerably less than the recommended maximum rates.

Recharge to the upper zone occurs in significant but as yet unmeasured quantities, mostly in the vicinity of the major streams. Apparently, however, no significant amount of recharge reaches the middle zone from the Upper zone. Although the middle zone is, in effect, being 'mined' by existing flowing wells, the present (1965) rate of withdrawal i

Publication Year 1968
Title Ground-water hydrology of the Chad Basin in Bornu and Dikwa Emirates, northeastern Nigeria, with special emphasis on the flow life of the artesian system
DOI 10.3133/wsp1757I
Authors Raymond E. Miller, R.H. Johnston, J.A.I. Olowu, J.U. Uzoma
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water Supply Paper
Series Number 1757
Index ID wsp1757I
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse