Critical Zone Observatories (CZO) in equatorial regions are seldom (see e. g. http://www.czen.org/, USA and http://rnbv.ipgp.fr/ , France). The equatorial zone of Central Africa is almost free of them with the exception of the CZO of the Upper Nyong river basin (organic-rich river on the lateritic plateau of South Cameroon; SO BVET,
http://bvet.omp.obs-mip.fr/ ). On both sides of the Equator line, the Ogooué River Basin (215,000 km2) stretches on about 80% of the total area of Gabon and drains various geological and morpho-pedological contexts and feeds the sedimentation areas of the Central African passive margin (Guillochaux et al., 2014). The Upper Ogooué (up to Lambaréné) drains the stepped planation surface of the Congo craton while the Lower Ogooué drains Mesozoic and Cenozoic sedimentary terrains. The climate is equatorial (Pmean = 2500 mm/yr; Tmean = 26 °; %humidity > 80%). Continuous hydro-climatic chronicles exist for the period 1953-1974 (managed by ORSTOM, now IRD). The runoff at Lambaréné (92% of the basin area) is very high (714 mm/yr). With a rural density of 1 inhabitant/km2, it is one of the last largely pristine tropical forested ecosystems on the Planet. In addition, the basin will be, in the coming decades, the theatre of important anthropogenic changes (dams, agriculture, mining, urbanisation, …). However, a conservation plan with an ambitious sustainable development policy is set up. This plan articulates the environmental issues related to the emergence of the country. Because of these characteristics, the basin offers ideal conditions for studying the changes in equatorial region of hydro-climate, weathering/erosion regimes and regolith production based on morpho-pedological contexts and associated physical, chemical and biological processes. It is thus germane to launch an integrated CZO initiative at both regional scale and local scale. At the regional scale, we plan to reactivate some of the hydro-climatic stations located on the planation surface (Franceville, Ayem, and Lambaréné). At the local scale, we plan to set up a small experimental watershed on the Lopé stream draining the northern part of the Lopé National Park, which is covered by a mosaic of forest and savannah. The Ogooué CZO will be highly complementary to the Nyong CZO, Cameroon, and a major asset for the international community.
Braun, J.-J.; Jeffery, K.; Aurélie Flore Koumba Pambo, A. F. K.; Paiz, M.-C.; Richter, D.; Poulsen, J.; Gaillardet J. (2015): CZO perspective in central Africa : the Lopé watershed, Lopé National Park, Ogooué River basin, Gabon. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, December 2015, San Francisco, CA.