OR/19/035 Background

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Fellgett, M W, Kingdon, A, Fernie, A, Baker, G, Mehta, M, and Henderson, A F. 2019. Oilfield in a box: The Hutton Field dataset. British Geological Survey Internal Report, OR/19/034.

The Africa Groundwater Atlas country hydrogeology maps (Version 1.0, 2019) are new digital maps produced as part of the UPGro Africa Groundwater Atlas project (referred to in this report as the Atlas).

The Africa Groundwater Atlas is an online resource that summarises the hydrogeology and groundwater resources of 51 African countries, and is a gateway to further information. The aim of the Atlas is to improve the availability and accessibility of high quality information on groundwater in Africa. The Atlas is available at www.bgs.ac.uk/africagroundwateratlas/index.cfm.

What the maps show[edit]

The Atlas country hydrogeology maps provide an overview of the hydrogeology and geology of each of 48 countries in Africa, at 1:5 million scale. This initial release is for 38 countries.

The maps have two themes:

  • geology with geological categories that reflect significant hydrogeological units (MacDonald et al. 2010[1]); and
  • hydrogeology, with categories that combine aquifer type and productivity. Definitions of aquifer type and aquifer productivity are given in the relevant sections below.

Who might use this dataset[edit]

These maps are likely to be useful to people interested in groundwater resources, hydrogeology or geology of any of the relevant African countries.

Dataset format and how to view the data[edit]

The Atlas country hydrogeology maps are provided as free-to-download shapefiles (.shp), also known as ESRI ‘shape’ format. There is a single shapefile for each country, which contains attribute information for geology and hydrogeology themes in attribute tables.

Each shapefile is provided with layer files with legends for geology and hydrogeology, in English and, for selected countries, also in French or Portuguese.

These files can only be viewed in a Geographic Information System (GIS), such as ArcMap, QGIS or MapInfo. GIS software can be purchased from various vendors, and other free-to-use (open source) software is available online.

The maps are available to download at www.bgs.ac.uk/africagroundwateratlas/index.cfm.


  1. MacDonald, A M, Ó Dochartaigh, B É, Bonsor, H C, Davies, J, and Key, R. 2010. Developing quantitative aquifer maps for Africa. British Geological Survey Internal Report IR/10/103. http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/501779/