A first investigation of hydrogeology and hydrogeophysics of the Maqu catchment in the Yellow River source region
Abstract. The Tibetan Plateau is the source of most of Asia's major rivers and has been called the Asian Water Tower. Detailed knowledge of its hydrogeology is paramount to enable the understanding of groundwater dynamics, which plays a vital role in headwater areas like the Tibetan Plateau. Nevertheless, due to its remoteness and the harsh environment, there is a lack of field survey data to investigate its hydrogeology. In this study, borehole core lithology analysis, altitude survey, soil
... ckness measurement, hydrogeological survey, and hydrogeophysical surveys (e.g., Magnetic Resonance Sounding – MRS, Electrical Resistivity Tomography – ERT, and Transient Electromagnetic – TEM) were conducted in the Maqu catchment within the Yellow River Source Region (YRSR). The soil thickness measurements were done in the western mountainous area of the catchment, where hydrogeophysical surveys were difficult to be carried out. The results indicate soil thicknesses are within 1.2 m in most cases, and the soil thickness decreases as the slope increases. The hydrogeological survey reveals that groundwater flows from the west to the east, recharging the Yellow River. The hydraulic conductivity ranges from 0.2 m/d to 12.4 m/d. The MRS soundings results, i.e., water content and hydraulic conductivity, confirmed the presence of unconfined aquifer in the flat eastern area. The depth of the Yellow River deposits was derived at several places in the flat eastern area based on TEM results. These survey data and results can be used to develop integrated hydrological modeling and water cycle analysis to improve a full–picture understanding of the water cycle at the Maqu catchment in the YRSR. The raw data set is freely available at https://doi.org/10.17026/dans-z6t-zpn7 (Li et al., 2020).