Marc Addison 

PhD Candidate

Marc is a PhD researcher at the University of Strathclyde, department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. His research interests concern the occurrence, controlling processes and health implications of fluoride in groundwater in southern Malawi. He is particularly interested tracing the geological origins of fluoride contaminated groundwater, and also creating a national data-set for identification of ‘at-risk’ areas. This will assist the Malawian Government with decision-making in their goal to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6.1: “By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all”.

 

This research hopes to have wider implications globally where fluoride-contaminated groundwater is found in continental rift-related geological regimes. Marc is funded by the Scottish Government: Climate Justice Fund: Water Futures Programme, which works in assisting Malawi to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6 ‘Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all’.

 

Marc achieved a BSc. (Hons) degree in Earth Science at the University of Glasgow 2012-2016 and an MSc. In Hydrogeology at the university of Strathclyde 2016-2017. He has extensive geological and hydrogeological field work experience across Scotland, Spain and Africa.

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The Occurrence of Fluoride in Malawi’s Groundwater

Research overview

The occurrence of fluoride in Malawian groundwater is vastly under-studied, relative to other east African countries. This research aims to document and assess the occurrence of fluoride in order to better understand the controlling processes specific to the tip of an active continental rift system. What key processes contribute to high levels of fluoride in groundwater and can these areas be risk-mapped in order to prevent borehole drilling in fluoritic areas? Previous studies are sparse, and most data occurs in general geochemical studies, which only mention fluoride in passing. Almost no attempt has ever been made to assess the occurrence of fluoride in Malawi at a national scale, or to trace the geological origins and pathways for fluoride in detail.

 

Following the creation of a geological GIS model, this study collates all existing archive data for fluoride and fluorosis in southern Malawi and re-analyses it from a geological perspective. Very strong positive correlations are observed with fluoride concentration and groundwater temperature suggesting a geothermal source. A negative correlation with calcium was also observed suggesting fluorite precipitation as another dominant source in the alluvial aquifers. Ultimately, the impact of this research is human health. Fluorosis is common and largely undocumented in Malawi so the ability to identify areas with fluoritic groundwater is key to mitigating the negative effects on the health of the population.

Archive data for fluoride in southern Malawi showing a trend for elevated fluoride in alluvial aquifers and excessive fluoride associated with hot springs and main faults

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