In the Puy-de-Dôme, the underground waters of the Chaîne des Puys reveal their secrets to scientists

Since 2019 the Caprice studio

it is conducted on the groundwater of the Chaîne des Puys to understand and characterize the behavior, circulation and volume of this fragile resource, the monitoring of which is an important issue for society.

Pending detailed conclusions in 2023, Philippe Labazuy, professor-researcher at the Magmas and Vulcanes laboratory at the University of Clermont Auvergne and scientific director of the Caprice study, provides some elements.

What did we know about the water resources in the Chaîne des Puys before the Caprice study?

Many things, the main one is that most of the flows occur underground, from the infiltration of rainwater through the volcanic formations to the granite base.

In search of groundwater, under the lava flows of the Puy de Louchadière (Puy-de-Dôme) (June 16, 2019)

What news does the Caprice studio bring?

It is an original and multidisciplinary approach. The geological aspect allows a better understanding of the structure of the Chaîne des Puys and the underlying granite base. Geochemistry is concerned with the path of rainwater through volcanic flows to rivers and hydrology allows for the quantification of the resource.
The underground tunnel leading to the Louchadière reservoir, 6 June 2019. Photo JB Ledys

This project allows the collection of long time series of quantitative data, which constitute a basis of factual and rigorous scientific knowledge, and on which those who, such as the State, local authorities and managers, are responsible for the development of management and conservation strategies. resources, in the short, medium and long term.

According to these initial data, what is the status of the resource at the local level?

The Massif Central and the Chaîne des Puys are not the areas most threatened by the reduction of water resources, but we must remain vigilant and adopt the right strategies to anticipate possible tensions or shortages.

At the water resource level, we know that the infiltration into the ground up to the aquifers will depend on the quantity but also on the effectiveness of the rainfall, that is when, where and how the rain falls.

But today’s situation will change with climate change …

Several factors must be taken into account: the period, the intensity, the anthropization of the environments. All these parameters must be taken into consideration by those who manage the resource today. In the long term, it will be necessary to monitor the data collected to feed new models that, in twenty years’ time, will undoubtedly help to analyze in retrospect what is happening and to find new avenues for optimal water management.

What will happen to your data in the meantime …

Within the UCA, in synergy with the CNRS, the BRGM, the Inrae and all the actors involved, we are working on the construction of a Water Observatory in volcanic territory, which could be supported by the Physics Observatory of the globe. in Clermont-Ferrand, with the aim of collecting as much data as possible and making it accessible to all.

Caprice: “Interdisciplinary approach for the characterization of water resources in the Chaîne des Puys” funded by Feder Auvergne / Loire-Bretagne Water Agency and UCA.

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