Main content area

Delineating sources of groundwater recharge and carbon in Holocene aquifers of the central Gangetic basin using stable isotopic signatures

Kumar, Manoj, Ramanathan, AL., Mukherjee, Abhijit, Sawlani, Ravi, Ranjan, Shyam
Isotopes in environmental and health studies 2019 v.55 no.3 pp. 254-271
Holocene epoch, alluvium, aquifers, basins, carbon, clay, deuterium, evaporation, floodplains, groundwater, groundwater recharge, microbial activity, oxygen, piedmont, ponds, rivers, sand, sandy clay soils, stable isotopes, India
Stable isotopes of water (δ²H, δ¹⁸O) and δ¹³CTIC were used as a tool to trace the recharge processes, natural carbon (organic and inorganic) source and dynamics in the aquifers of the central Gangetic basin, India. Stable isotope (δ²H, δ¹⁸O) record of groundwater (n = 105) revealed that the groundwater of Piedmont was recharged by meteoric origin before evaporation, while aquifers of the older and younger alluvium were recharged by water that had undergone evaporation loss. River Ganges and its tributaries passing through this area have very little contribution in recharging while ponds play no role in the recharging of adjacent aquifers. The connectivity of shallow aquifers of aquitard formation (comprised of clay/sandy clay with thin patches of fine grey sand), i.e. 25–60 m below ground level (bgl) with the main upper aquifer (at a depth of >120 m bgl) was found to be higher in older and younger alluvium. Negative values of δ¹³CTIC (median −9.6 ‰; range −13.2 to −5.4 ‰) and high TIC (median 35 mM; range 31–46 mM) coupled with low TOC (median 1.35 mg/L; range 0.99–1.77 mg/L) indicated acceleration in microbial activity in the younger alluvium, especially in the active floodplain of river Ganges and its proximity.