Trace elements Hydrogeochemistry in surface and ground waters of some part of Biu Volcanic Province, North-Eastern Nigeria: Human Health Impact

Master's Thesis, 2012

133 Pages














Location, Extent and Accessibility
Relief and Drainage
Climate and Vegetation
Settlement and Land Use
Aims and Objectives
Scope of the Studies

CHAPTER TWO: Literatur
Effects of Trace Elements in Volcanic Areas

CHAPTER THREE: Detailed Geology and Hydrogeology of the stud
3.1.0 Introduction
3.1.1 Porphyritic and Amygdaloidal Variet
3.1.2 Large Phenocryst of Zoned labradorite
3.1.3 Agglomerates, Tuffs and Brownish Red Basaltic Scoria
3.2.0 Hydrogeology of the Study Area
3.2.1 Introduction
3.2.2 Surface Water
3.2.3 LakeTila
3.2.4 Perennial Stream Water
3.2.5 Groundwater in the Basalts
3.2.6 Data Collection
3.2.7 Data Processing
3.2.8 Interpretation of Groundwater Map
3.2.9 Structures
3.2.10 Joints

4.0 Introduction
4.1 Sample Collection and Preservation
4.2 Water Sample Preparations
4.3 Soil Sample Preparations
4.4 Analytical Technique

5.1.0 Result
5.1.1 Water Sample
5.1.2 MajorElements
5.1.3 TraceElements
5.2.0 Soil Sample Analysis Results
5.2.1 Major Elements
5.2.2 Trace Elements
5.3 Discussion
5.3.2 Major Elements in Soil and Water Samples
5.3.3 Trace Elements in Soil and Water Samples
5.4.0 Trace Element Exposure And Human Health Impact
5.4.1 Introduction
5.4.2 Trace Element Exposure
5.5 Trace Elements and Human Health Impact

CHAPTER SIX: Summary, Conclusion
6.1.1 Summary
6.1.2 Conclusion
6.1.3 Recommendations






September, 2012


I hereby declare that this work is the product of my own research efforts; undertaken under the supervision of Professor U. A. Lar and has not been presented elsewhere for award of a degree or certificate. All sources have been duly recognized and appropriately acknowledge.”

Adamu Usman



This is to certify that this researched work was carried out by Adamu Usman Mohammed under the supervision of Professor U. A. Lar.


This is to certify that this research work has been examined and approved for the award of degree of Master of Science (MSc.) in Hydrogeology and Engineering geology.

Prof. F. X. O. Ugodulunwa


Prof. U. A. Lar

Head of Dept.

Prof. I. B. Goni



To my Wife (Amina) and Daughters Hauwa, Najeeba and


The contribution of my supervisor professor U. A. Lar is acknowledged, despite his tight schedule he personally supervised my sample analysis and critically read through the manuscript and offered necessary assistance, thank you sir for the care you showed to me.

My sincere appreciation goes to the Lecturers of the department of Geology and Mining, Post Graduate Program for their efforts to guide us.

The role played by my colleague Mr. Rabo Ilu Lappi in mapping the entire study area is highly appreciated.

To my class mates Mr. B. Musa, Mr. Bala Azi, Mrs. R. Gusikit, Mrs. H. Wazoh to mentioned but a few, thank you for your support. Mallam Murtala Adamu I am grateful for your assistance in many ways.

My colleagues in National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency, Bauchi Exploration Base i.e. Assistant Director Mr. Wale Adegoke, Chief Issac Orogun, Chief Ilupeju and chief Kola Ogunbiyi, Mr. A. Daya, Mr E. Bassey, Mr. G. U. Chidi. Mr. T. John, Mr. Y. Bangalu and my former assistant Directors Mr. S. K. Ariyo and Mr. A. Fasasi I appreciate your concern by wishing me success and journey mercy always.

Finally, I acknowledged my Sister Mrs. U. M. Fatima for her care and concern towards me and my loving wife Mrs. Amina I appreciate your understanding, love and care throughout the period of this research.

List of Figures

Fig. 1: Location map of the study area

Fig. 2: Digitized drainage map of the study area

Fig. 3: Location of Biu Plateau

Fig. 4: A simplified Geological map of Nigeria (source: NGSA)

Fig. 5: Geological map of Biu-Plateau (after Saidu, 2004)

Fig. 6: Landsat image of Biu Town and Environ

Fig. 7: Groundwater contour map indicating directions of water flow

Fig. 8: Rose diagram of the study area showing the general structural trend

Fig. 9 Lineation map of the study area showing the general trends

Fig. 10: sampling points location of the study area

Fig. 11: ca concentration in boreholes, wells and surface water

Fig. 12: K concentration in boreholes, wells and surface water

Fig. 13: Mg concentration in boreholes, wells and surface water

Fig. 14: Na concentration in boreholes, wells and surface water

Fig. 15: As concentration in boreholes, wells and surface water

Fig. 16: Ba concentration in boreholes, wells and surface water

Fig. 17: Cd concentration in boreholes, wells and surface water

Fig. 18: Cr concentration in boreholes, wells and surface water

Fig. 19: Cu concentration in boreholes, wells and surface water

Fig. 20: Fe concentration in boreholes, wells and surface water

Fig. 21: I concentration in boreholes, wells and surface water

Fig. 22: Mn concentration in boreholes, wells and surface water

Fig. 23: Mo concentration in boreholes, wells and surface water

Fig. 24: Ni concentration in boreholes, wells and surface water

Fig. 25: Pb concentration in boreholes, wells and surface water

Fig. 26: Sb concentration in boreholes, wells and surface water

Fig. 27: Se concentration in boreholes, wells and surface water

Fig. 28: CaO concentration in Biu Volcanic Soils

Fig. 29: Fe2O3 concentration in Biu Volcanic Soils

Fig. 30: K2O concentration in Biu Volcanic Soils

Fig. 31: MgO concentration in Biu Volcanic Soils

Fig. 32: MnO concentration in Biu Volcanic Soils

Fig. 33: TiO2 concentration in Biu Volcanic Soils

Fig. 34: Co concentration in Biu Volcanic Soils

Fig. 35: Cr concentration in Biu Volcanic Soils

Fig. 36: Cu concentration in Biu Volcanic Soils

Fig. 37: Ni concentration in Biu Volcanic Soils

Fig. 38: Pb concentration in Biu Volcanic Soils

Fig. 39: Zn concentration in Biu Volcanic Soils

List of Tables

Table 1: Analysis of water samples from Lake Tila

Table 2: Static water level and hydraulic gradient of the study area

Table 3: Water samples description and locations

Table 4: Soil samples description and locations

Table 5: Ph, EC and Temperature of surface and groundwater measured in the field

Table 6a: Major and Trace Elements (water)

Table 6b: Major and Trace Elements (water)

Table 7: Major and Trace Elements (soil)

Table 8: World Health Organization standard for drinking water

Table 9: Average Major and Trace Element composition of Basalt

Table 10: Average concentration of Major and Trace Element in surface, well and soil

List of Plates

Plate 1: Tila Lake

Plate 2: Spring water issues from basalt in yimirshika

Plate 3a: Woman fetching drinking water from a water spot in the basalt alluvium

Plate 3b: Moderate amount of water in shallow well (basalt alluvium)

Plate 4: Photgraph of sample of ICP_OES machine in Geochemistry Laboratory, University

Plate 5: Deformed nails due to As and Se toxicity

Plate 6: Deformed nails due to As and Se toxicity

Plate 7: Deformed nails due to As and Se toxicity

Plate 8: Deformed nails due to As and Se toxicity

Plate 9: Hyper pigmentation on palms due to As and Se toxicity

Plate 10: Roughness of the skin and nails brittlleness due to As and Se toxicity

Plate 11: Pactches and roughness on palms due to As and Se toxicity

Plate 12: Growth on skin due As and Se toxicity

Plate 13: Growth on skin due As and Se toxicity

Plate 14: Growth on skin due As and Se toxicity

Plate 15: Growth on skin due As and Se toxicity

Plate 16: Growth on the jaw due As and Se toxicity


The Biu Volcanic Province is one of the largest Volcanic Provinces in Nigeria covering an area of 5000 km2 with a thickness of 250m it is situated on the structural and topographic divide, a broad E-W ridge (Zambuk Ridge) between the Benue and Chad sedimentary basins. The volcanoes are built up by essentially basaltic materials and are of two textural types namely: the Biu type, which is flow basalts, massive with vesicles, and the Maringa type, highly scoraceous and associated with pyroclastic deposits. Chemical analysis shows total hardness values of the waters in Biu volcanic Province ranges from 70 to 1666 mg/l indicating that the water from boreholes, wells and surface waters are moderate to very hard, therefore, not suitable for both drinking, washing and bathing. Geochemical analysis of the volcanic soil revealed the complete leaching of the major elements (CaO, K2O, MgO, MnO, and TiO2) from the surface soil probably into water sources. This may explain the extremely high Ca and K levels especially in the stream water where they display values of 348mg/l and 36 mg/l as against 200mg/l to 12 mg/l respectively of WHO admissible limits for drinking water. The accumulation of transition metals in the soil (Co 84-111ppm; Cr: 230-441ppm); Ni: 169-237ppm) is geogenic derived from the weathering of the host basaltic rock. Cr, Ni, and Cu do not easily form soluble ions in solution explaining why they display lower levels below their respective WHO admissible limits for drinking water. The absence in the soil profile and the extremely higher values of potentially harmful elements (PHEs) (As, Se, Sb, and Pb) in the spring and stream water as opposed to the lower values in the wells and borehole water suggest their extreme solubility, direct leaching and transportation of these elements from the surrounding rocks into the surface water.

The higher values of Zn and Pb (10-40ppm and 246-496ppm respectively) could be explained like for Co, Cr, Ni, by their absorption and retention in clay minerals structure. Most inhabitants of the volcanic province rely on any of these available water sources for their drinking and other domestic purposes. The long-term exposure to Potentially Harmful Elements through the ingestion of water and food could have adverse health hazards. Few of the inhabitants show manifestations of nail deformity (nail thickening and brittleness), and hyper pigmentation of the skin and hand palms. Others present various forms of skin diseases (especially skin growth) which all could be attributed to exposure to As or Se toxicity.



Through physical and chemical weathering processes, rocks break down to form the soils on which the crops that constitute the food supply are raised for humans and animals consumption. Drinking water travels through rocks and soils as part of the hydrological cycle and in the process leached elements in solution (Lar, 2009).

Volcanism a12nd related igneous activities are the principal processes that bring elements to the surface from deep inside the Earth. For example, the volcano Pinatubo ejected on the 2nd of June 1991, about 10 billion tonnes of magma and 20 million tonnes of SO2 and the resulting aerosols influenced the global climate for 3 years (Selinus, 2004). This event alone introduced 800,000 tonnes of zinc, 600,000 tonnes of copper, and 1,000 tonnes of cadmium to the surface environment. In addition to this, 30,000 tonnes of nickel, 550,000 tonnes of chromium, and 800 tonnes of mercury were also added to the Earth's surface environment. Volcanic eruptions redistribute some of the harmful elements, such as arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, mercury, lead, radon, and uranium. It is also important to realize that there is an average of 60 sub aerial volcanoes erupting on the surface of the Earth at any given time, releasing various elements into the environment. Submarine volcanism is even more significant than that at continental margins, and it has been conservatively estimated that there are at least 3,000 vent fields on the mid ocean ridges (Selinus, 2004).

Almost all metals present in the environment have been biogeochemically cycled since the formation of the Earth. Human activity has introduced additional processes that have increased the rate of redistribution of metals between environmental compartments, particularly since the industrial revolution. However, over most of the Earth's land surface the primary control on the distribution of metals is the geochemistry of the underlying local rocks. Fundamental links between chemistry and mineralogy lead to characteristic geochemical signatures for different rock types. As rocks erode and weather to form soils and sediments, chemistry and mineralogy again influence how much metal remains close to the source, how much is translocated greater distances, and how much is transported in solutions that replenish ground and surface water supplies. In addition, direct processes such as the escape of gases and fluids along major fractures in the Earth's crust, and volcanic related activity, locally can provide significant sources of metals to surface environments, including the atmosphere and sea floor. As a result of these processes the Earth's surface is geochemically inhomogeneous. Regional scale processes lead to large areas with enhanced or depressed metal levels that can cause biological effects due to either toxicity or deficiency if the metals are, or are not, transformed to bioavailable chemical species (Selinus, 2004).

Many elements are essential to plant, human and animal health, but this depends on the dose. Most of these elements are taken into the human body via food, water, in the diet and in the air we breathe.

The naturally occurring elements are not distributed evenly across the surface of the Earth, and problems can arise when element abundances are too low (deficiency) or too high (toxicity). The inability of the environment to provide the correct chemical balance can lead to serious health problems. Approximately 25 of the naturally occurring elements are known to be essential to plant and animal life in trace amounts, including Ca, Mg, Fe, Co, Cu, Zn, P, N, S, Se, I, and Mo. On the other hand, an excess of these elements can cause toxicity problems. Some elements such as As, Cd, Pb, Hg, and Al have no or limited biological function and are generally toxic to humans (Selinus, 2007).

Those living on lands with heavily impoverished soils, have such a low intake of essential elements that a very large percentage of the population suffers from a variety of diseases caused by severe mineral imbalances. Likewise, in areas, where there is excess intake of elements due to the abundance of certain minerals in the environment, may leads to high incidences of toxicity.

Environmental pollution arising from the distribution elements by natural or anthropogenic processes distorts geochemical systems. The natural geochemical composition of rocks and soils that make up the environment where we live may become direct risks to human health and may be the underlying cause of element deficiency and toxicity (lar, 2008).

Because of the increasing concern on the negative effects of excess or lack of trace elements to Humans and Animals an attempt will be made to study trace elements concentration in the soils, surface and underground waters of some part of Biu volcanic province.

This study will serve as reference for future Groundwater research, Medical and Environmental Geologists as well as Mineral explorationists.


The study area covers some parts of the Biu Plateau. The area is located in the standard sheet 133SW. Lying between longitude 12 ̊ 07ˈE and 12 ̊ 15ˈE and latitude 10 ̊ 31ˈN and 10 ̊ 38ˈN. Biu Town is located at the centre of the Plateau. The towns bordering the area include Damaturu to the North, Mubi to the South and Damboa to the East and Gombe to the West figure1.

The area is fairly accessible and has relatively good network of roads and foot paths. There is a trunk ‘A’ road in the area that stretches from Biu-Damboa road and Biu-Garkida road that give good access for sample collection.


Topographically, the Biu Plateau stands at an altitude of about 600-800m above sea level, forming a flat top in some areas, it slopes gradually to the north and has steep precipitous escarpment to the south. To the west and east it has steep slopes. There are however gently undulating plains of the buried basement and cretaceous rocks particularly in the western and southern part of the Plateau. The Basement rocks are often deeply weathered, and where the protecting basalt cover has been removed, gullies and rough topography often develop (Du Preeze, 1949).

[illustration not visible in this excerpt] Figure 1: Map of Nigeria showing the location of the stud

In the northern part around Miringa area it is characterized by the presence of volcanic cones, which formed many flat top hills. The topography can be observed from the extinct volcanoes in line from north to south along side with Biu-Damboa road, and to the west and east near Zagu.

In the southern part of the area from Kinging to Marama and Lokoja the topography steadily increases and decreases at some interval but generally maintains an average altitude of about 450-600m above sea level. Many hills here have well developed craters with branched rims and steep sided feature. A number of volcanic cones rise above the plain; some appear well preserved but are deeply weathered.

At the south-eastern parts of the Plateau near Kwajaffa there is a sudden drop in the altitude to about 150m above sea level.

Numerous tributaries of the Gongola River including the Hawal, Ruhu, Gungeru, and Ndivana rivers rise on the plateau and deeply dissect its surface. All rivers in the study area are seasonal, displaying dendritic drainage patterns that are both structurally and morphologically controlled (figure 2). While Biu’s southern and western sides are quite steep, the plateau slopes more gradually in the north onto the Bauchi Plains and the Chad Basin (Du Preeze, 1949).


Biu Plateau falls within the Guinea Savannah climatic zones of Nigeria. There are two types of seasons in this area. They are wet and dry season. The wet season starts around April to September while the dry season sets in from September to March (Falconer, 1911).

The month of October to February witness the cold period with extensive cold and dusty cloud. The dry season is influenced by the tropical continental NE trade wind (harmattan), while the wet season with its torrential rains occasionally accompanied by hail storm is induced by the tropical maritime SW trade wind. The plateau receives approximately 1,000 mm (40 in) of precipitation from April to September, the rainy season lasts 140days (Falconer, 1911).

The vegetation of the study area could be best described as Sudan type. It is characterised by trees of about 6- 8 meters high interspersed with tall trees and plain grasses. Vegetation is thicker along the river channels and streams.

Temperature alters very much as it attains about 34̊C during the day while in the night it could drop significantly to 8̊C.

Relative humidity is generally low, ranging from as low as 13 per cent in the driest months of January and February to the highest values of seventy to eighty per cent in the rainy season months of May and September (Falconer, 1911).


The Biu Plateau’s thin soils, scarcity of water in the dry season, and relative inaccessibility have discouraged human settlement there. Several ethnic groups (Babur, Bura, Tera, Margi, Hina, and Fulani), make their home on the Biu Plateau, the largest being the Bura people. The Biu plateau has a generally low population density, except for urban pockets in the south. Biu, a regional administrative and commercial centre, is the largest town. Roads link Biu to north-eastern Nigeria’s largest cities Maiduguri, Yola, and Gombe. The Biu plateau provided a place of refuge for small, militarily weak groups, who resisted the expansion of the powerful Fulani Sokoto Caliphate, which controlled most of northern Nigeria in the 19th century (Falconer, 1911).

The volcanic soils are naturally fertile but also thin and stony. Small, hand-tilled farms are the mainstay of the region’s economy. Sorghum, millet, maize (corn), beans, cotton, and peanuts are the main crops. Some farmers grow crops in terraced plots on the slopes of valleys. Rice is cultivated in some valley bottoms.

Most inhabitants in the region keep cattle, goats, sheep, horses, and donkeys; and Biu town is the chief trade centre (sorghum, millet, peanuts [groundnuts]) on the Plateau. The town, site of the emir’s palace, has several (government Health offices and a Dispensary. The Church of the Brethren operates a teacher-training college at nearby Waka Biu (Falconer, 1911).


The present work is aimed at providing basic information about trace elements distribution in surface and groundwater of some parts of Biu Volcanic Province with particular reference to their toxicity and deficiency and possible health impact of consumption of such waters. The main objectives of this work are as follows:

- To determine the concentrations levels of trace elements in the soil and natural waters of the study the area
- To understand if the composition of the soils affect the chemistry of the waters in the study area
- To Make a data comparison with WHO admissible standard in order to determine possible health impact to Human
- Data obtained will serve as a database for application in environmental hydrogeological, medical geology and mineral exploration.


In this study, a special emphasis has been laid on the Geology, Hydrogeology and Hydrogeochemistry of groundwater. The study involved:

- Groundwate
- Finding the origin, occurrence and groundwater flow direction in th
- Sampling of soils for geochemica
- Carrying out Hydrogeochemistry of surface an

Figure 2: Digitized drainage map of the stud

illustration not visible in this excerpt



Not much work has been done on trace element Hydrogeochemistry in volcanic environment in Nigeria. The present study is the first of its kind and will relate the distribution of trace elements from soils into surface and ground waters in the study area to the possible health impact in humans. However, the effects of trace elements in volcanic environment on Human, Animals and Plants have been studied considerably around the world by various authors.


In the western United States, groundwater with elevated arsenic concentrations is known to be associated with intermediate to felsic volcanic rocks and associated sediments (Welch et al., 1988). Volcanic rocks and sediments derived from them are also associated with elevated arsenic levels in ground water. This may be true not because volcanic rocks contain more arsenic than other types of rocks, but because the arsenic is more readily mobilized from volcanic rocks and derived sediments.

Volcanic rocks and derived sediments in the north-eastern half of the Tucson basin, where sediments are derived largely from granitic rocks, arsenic concentrations in ground water are generally less than 2 parts per billion (ppb). In contrast, in the south-western half of the basin, underlain by sediments derived substantially from volcanic rocks, arsenic is found in much higher concentrations in groundwater (Spencer, 2000). Volcanic rocks and derived sediments, especially where altered to clay minerals, may be especially prone to yielding arsenic to groundwater under such conditions.

The problem of fluorosis related to volcanic activity was first recognised in Japan were this pathology was called “Aso volcano disease” (Kawahara, 1971) due to the fact that fluorosis was widespread in the population living at the foot of this volcano. Water intake being the main route of fluorine into the human body, fluorosis in volcanic areas is generally associated to elevated fluoride content in surface- and ground-waters.

High fluoride concentrations (greater than the WHO guideline value of 1.5 mg/l) are found in the Rift Valley of western Uganda and in the volcanic areas of the east (Mbale, Elgon, Moroto areas). The incidence of fluorosis is known to be high as a result. The crater lakes of western Uganda often have high concentrations (e.g.4.5 mg/l F in Lake Kikorongo; Mungoma, 1990) and concentrations in ground waters having interaction with these lake waters are likewise expected to be high (and the waters correspondingly saline). High fluoride concentrations are particularly noted in groundwaters from the Rwenzori Mountains on the western border and the Sukulu Hills in eastern Uganda (WRAP, 1999). In the Sukulu Hills, fluoride may also be associated with occurrences of phosphate minerals which are currently being investigated for mining development.

Acute and chronic fluorosis on grazing animals has been described for many explosive eruptions all around the world [Mt. Hekla – Iceland (Georgsson and Petursson 1972), Lonquimay – Chile (Araya et al, 1990), Nyamuragira – Democratic Republic of Congo (Casadevall, 1995), Mt. Ruapehu – New Zealand (Cronin et al, 2002). Consequences on livestock are due to grazing of grass or drinking water that is Fluoride -contaminated.

High fluorine content in waters derive either from Water-Rock Interaction (WRI) processes in volcanic aquifers (ground waters) or to contamination due to wet or dry deposition of magmatic fluorine (surface waters - reservoirs). Furthermore, paleopathologic studies on human skeletons found in Herculaneum, referable to victims of 79 AD eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, evidenced that fluorosis in this area had the same incidence as in modern times, pointing to the constancy of the geochemical processes responsible for fluorine enrichment of the drinking water in the area over at least the last 2000 years (Morettini and Ciranni, 2000).


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Trace elements Hydrogeochemistry in surface and ground waters of some part of Biu Volcanic Province, North-Eastern Nigeria: Human Health Impact
University of Jos  (University of Jos, Nigeria, GeoMining)
Hydrogeology and Engineering Geology
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trace, hydrogeochemistry, volcanic, province, north-eastern, nigeria, human, health, impact
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Adamu Usman (Author), 2012, Trace elements Hydrogeochemistry in surface and ground waters of some part of Biu Volcanic Province, North-Eastern Nigeria: Human Health Impact, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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