Natural Hazards

, Volume 97, Issue 3, pp 1209–1230 | Cite as

Identification of seawater intrusion signatures through geochemical evolution of groundwater: a case study based on coastal region of the Mahanadi delta, Bay of Bengal, India

  • A. K. BeheraEmail author
  • G. J. Chakrapani
  • S. Kumar
  • N. Rai
Original Paper


The study dealt with seawater intrusion process in a coastal aquifer system in the Mahanadi river delta region in the east coast of India along the Bay of Bengal. The aquifers of Mahanadi delta are characterized as shallow aquifers (< 50 m) and deeper aquifers (> 50 m). Electrical conductivity (EC) of groundwater varied from a fresh of 146 μS/cm (NW of the Mahanadi delta) to a saline of 33,900 μS/cm (close to sea coast) with cation dominance in the order Na+ > Ca2+ > Mg2+ > K+ and anion dominance of Cl > \( {\text{HCO}}_{3}^{ - } \) > \( {\text{SO}}_{4}^{2 - } \). The hydrochemical facies changed from Ca–Mg–Na–HCO3 type to Na–Cl type along the groundwater flow direction due to ion exchange processes. A strong positive correlation (r > 0.9) between Cl with EC, Na+, Mg2+, Ca2+, \( {\text{SO}}_{4}^{2 - } \) and K+ was observed, which indicated the influence of seawater on coastal aquifer. The ionic ratios (Na+/Cl, \( {\text{HCO}}_{3}^{ - } \)/Cl, Mg2+/Ca2+, \( {\text{SO}}_{4}^{2 - } \)/Cl, Ca2+/(\( {\text{HCO}}_{3}^{ - } \)/\( {\text{SO}}_{4}^{2 - } \))) also suggested that the groundwater is affected by seawater intrusion. Stable isotope compositions (δ18O and δ2H) varied from − 1.86 to − 6.87 ‰ for δ18O and from − 10.79 to − 45.42 ‰ for δ2H, implying the mixing of saline water and fresh groundwater in the coastal region of the Mahanadi delta. The proportion of seawater in groundwater was estimated to vary from 0% in the upper-delta formation to 72% in the lower-delta formation of the Mahanadi delta (close to seacoast), which was due to inland intrusion of seawater. In a first ever study on this coastal aquifer along the Bay of Bengal, where a large population is dependent on agriculture, seawater intrusion into the fresh groundwater has been quantified. The issue of seawater intrusion into the coastal aquifer in this region may become a serious disaster, if appropriate management strategies are not implemented in time.


Seawater intrusion Stable isotopes Cation exchange Mahanadi delta Coastal aquifer Bay of Bengal 



AKB acknowledges University Grant Commission (Grant Number: 6405-14-044), New Delhi, for providing Junior Research Fellowship to carry out the research work. The two anonymous reviewers and the editor are thanked and gratefully acknowledged for their critical reviews of the manuscript.


  1. Aggarwal PK, Gat JR, Froehlich KFO (2005) Isotopes in the water cycle; past, present and future of a developing science. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  2. Alcamo J, Henrichs T, Rösch T (2000) World water in 2025: global modeling and scenario analysis for the World Commission on water for the 21st century, Kassel World Water Ser Rep 2, Cent for Environ Syst Res, Univ of Kassel, Kassel, GermanyGoogle Scholar
  3. Allen DM, Suchy M (2001) Geochemical evolution of groundwater on Saturna Island. Br C Can J Earth Sci 38:1059–1080CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Andersen MS, Nyvang V, Jakobsen R, Postma D (2005) Geochemical processes and solute transport at the seawater/freshwater interface of a sandy aquifer. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 69(16):3979–3994CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Appelo CAJ, Postma D (2005) Geochemistry, groundwater and pollution, 2nd edn. AA Balkema, RotterdamGoogle Scholar
  6. Central Ground Water Board (2013) Ground water information booklet of Jagatsinghpur District, South Eastern Region, BhubaneswarGoogle Scholar
  7. Chandrajith R, Diyabalanage S, Premathilake KM, Hanke C, van Geldern R, Barth JA (2016) Controls of evaporative irrigation return flows in comparison to seawater intrusion in coastal karstic aquifers in northern Sri Lanka: evidence from solutes and stable isotopes. Sci Total Environ 548:421–428CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Clark ID, Fritz P (1997) Environmental isotopes in hydrology. CRC Press, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar
  9. Craig H (1961) Isotopic variations in meteoric waters. Science 133:1702–1703CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Das PP, Sahoo HK, Mohapatra PP (2016) An integrative geospatial and hydrogeochemical analysis for the assessment of groundwater quality in Mahakalapara Block, Odisha, India. Environ Earth Sci 75:158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. De Montety V, Radakovitch O, Vallet-Coulomb C, Blavoux B, Hermitte D, Valles V (2008) Origin of groundwater salinity and hydrogeochemical processes in a confined coastal aquifer: case of the Rhône delta (Southern France). Appl Geochem 23:2337–2349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dogramaci S, Skrzypek G, Dodson W, Grierson PF (2012) Stable isotope and hydrochemical evolution of groundwater in the semi-arid Hamersley Basin of subtropical northwest Australia. J Hydrol 475:281–293CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Epstein S, Mayeda TK (1953) Variations of the 18O/16O ratio in natural waters. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 4:1702–1703CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ferguson G, Gleeson T (2012) Vulnerability of coastal aquifers to groundwater use and climate change. Nat Clim Chag 2:42–345CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Geological Survey of India, Kolkata (2011) Published under the direction of Director General, Eastern RegionGoogle Scholar
  16. Ghabayen SM, McKee M, Kemblowski M (2006) Ionic and isotopic ratios for identification of salinity sources and missing data in the Gaza aquifer. J Hydrol 318:360–373CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gupta SK, Deshpande RD (2005) Groundwater isotopic investigations in India: what has been learned? Curr Sci 89:825Google Scholar
  18. Han D, Kohfahl C, Song X, Xiao G, Yang J (2011) Geochemical and isotopic evidence for palaeo-seawater intrusion into the south coast aquifer of Laizhou Bay, China. Appl Geochem 26:863–883CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Han DM, Song XF, Currell MJ, Yang JL, Xiao GQ (2014) Chemical and isotopic constraints on evolution of groundwater salinization in the coastal plain aquifer of Laizhou Bay, China. J Hydrol 508:12–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Han D, Post VE, Song X (2015) Groundwater salinization processes and reversibility of seawater intrusion in coastal carbonate aquifers. J Hydrol 531:1067–1080CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Huang G, Sun J, Zhang Y, Chen Z, Liu F (2013) Impact of anthropogenic and natural processes on the evolution of groundwater chemistry in a rapidly urbanized coastal area, South China. Sci Total Environ 463:209–221CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jones BF, Vengosh A, Rosenthal E, Yechieli Y (1999) Geochemical investigations. In: Bear J, Cheng AH-D, Sorek S, Ouazar D, Herrera I (eds) Seawater intrusion in coastal aquifers-concepts, methods and practices. Springer, Netherlands, pp 51–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Khan MYA, Gani KM, Chakrapani GJ (2017) Spatial and temporal variations of physicochemical and heavy metal pollution in Ramganga River: a tributary of River Ganges, India. Environ Earth Sci 76:231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kumar M, Herbert R Jr, Ramanathan AL, Rao MS, Kim K, Deka JP, Kumar B (2013) Hydrogeochemical zonation for groundwater management in the area with diversified geological and land-use setup. Chem der Erde-Geochem 73:267–274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Larsen F, Tran LV, Van Hoang H, Tran LT, Christiansen AV, Pham NQ (2017) Groundwater salinity influenced by Holocene seawater trapped in incised valleys in the Red River delta plain. Nat Geosci 10:376–381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ledesma-Ruiz R, Pastén-Zapata E, Parra R, Harter T, Mahlknecht J (2015) Investigation of the geochemical evolution of groundwater under agricultural land: a case study in northeastern Mexico. J Hydrol 521:410–423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lee JY, Song SH (2007) Evaluation of groundwater quality in coastal areas: implications for sustainable agriculture. Environ Geol 52:1231–1242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Liu F, Song X, Yang L, Han D, Zhang Y, Ma Y, Bu H (2015) The role of anthropogenic and natural factors in shaping the geochemical evolution of groundwater in the Subei Lake basin, Ordos energy base, Northwestern China. Sci Total Environ 538:327–340CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mahalik NK (2000) Mahanadi delta: geology, resources and biodiversity. AIT Alumni Association (India Chapter), New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  30. Martínez D, Bocanegra E (2002) Hydrogeochemistry and cation-exchange processes in the coastal aquifer of Mar Del Plata, Argentina. Hydrogeol J 10:393–408CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mondal NC, Singh VP, Singh VS, Saxena VK (2010) Determining the interaction between groundwater and saline water through groundwater major ions chemistry. J Hydrol 388:100–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Nadler A, Magaritz M, Mazor E (1980) Chemical reactions of sea water with rocks and freshwater: experimental and field observations on brackish waters in Israel. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 44:879–886CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nair IS, Rajaveni SP, Schneider M, Elango L (2015) Geochemical and isotopic signatures for the identification of seawater intrusion in an alluvial aquifer. J Earth Syst Sci 124:1281–1291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA) (2008) Annual reportGoogle Scholar
  35. Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India.
  36. Parkhurst DL, Appelo CAJ (2013) Description of input and examples for PHREEQC version 3: a computer program for speciation, batch-reaction, one-dimensional transport, and inverse geochemical calculations (No. 6-A43). US Geological SurveyGoogle Scholar
  37. Planning and Convergence Department, Government of Odisha (2016) Annual reportGoogle Scholar
  38. Piper AM (1944) A graphic procedure in the geochemical interpretation of water-analyses. Eos. Transact. American Geophys. Union. 25:914–928CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pulido-Leboeuf P (2004) Seawater intrusion and associated processes in a small coastal complex aquifer (Castell de Ferro, Spain). Appl Geochem 19:1517–1527CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pulido-Leboeuf P, Pulido-Bosch A, Calvache ML, Vallejos Á, Andreu JM (2003) Strontium, SO4 2−/Cl and Mg2+/Ca2+ ratios as tracers for the evolution of seawater into coastal aquifers: the example of Castell de Ferro aquifer (SE Spain). C R Geosci 335:1039–1048CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rai SP, Purushothaman P, Kumar B, Jacob N, Rawat YS (2014) Stable isotopic composition of precipitation in the River Bhagirathi Basin and identification of source vapor. Environ Earth Sci 71:4835CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rao VG, Rao GT, Surinaidu L, Mahesh J, Rao SM, Rao BM (2013) Assessment of geochemical processes occurring in groundwaters in the coastal alluvial aquifer. Environ Monit Assess 185:8259–8272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Rosenthal E (1987) Chemical composition of rainfall and groundwater in recharge areas of the Bet Shean-Harod multiple aquifer system, Israel. J Hydrol 89:329–352CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sengupta S, Sarkar A (2006) Stable isotope evidence of dual (Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal) vapour sources in monsoonal precipitation over north India. Earth Plan Sci Lett 25:511–521CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Skrzypek G, Dogramaci S, Grierson PF (2013) Geochemical and hydrological processes controlling groundwater salinity of a large inland wetland of northwest Australia. Chem Geol 357:164–177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Stigter TY, Van Ooijen SPJ, Post VEA, Appelo CAJ, Dill AC (1998) A hydrogeological and hydrochemical explanation of the groundwater composition under irrigated land in a Mediterranean environment, Algarve, Portugal. J Hydrol 208:262–279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sun Z, Song X, Bu H, Yang L, Ma Y, Zhang Y, Han D (2016) Origin of groundwater salinity and hydrochemical processes in an unconfined aquifer: case of Yang-Dai River basin in Qinhuangdao (China). Environ Earth Sci 75:54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Tsujimura M, Abe Y, Tanaka T, Shimada J, Higuchi S, Yamanaka T, Davaa G, Oyunbaatar D (2007) Stable isotopic and geochemical characteristics of groundwater in Kherlen River basin, a semi-arid region in eastern Mongolia. J Hydrol 333:47–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Tyagi JV, Kumar S (2000) Estimation of rainfall recharge in a coastal area through inverse groundwater modeling. In: Proceedings of the international conference on integrated water resources management for sustainable development, ICIWRM, New Delhi, pp 312–322Google Scholar
  50. Vengosh A, Rosenthal E (1994) Saline groundwater in Israel: it’s bearing on the water crisis in the country. J Hydrol 156:389–430CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wada Y, van Beek LP, van Kempen CM, Reckman JW, Vasak S, Bierkens MF (2010) Global depletion of groundwater resources. Geophy Res Lett 37:1–5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wang Y, Jiao JJ (2012) Origin of groundwater salinity and hydrogeochemical processes in the confined Quaternary aquifer of the Pearl River Delta, China. J Hydrol 438:112–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. World Bank (2010) Deep wells and prudence: towards pragmatic action for addressing groundwater overexploitation in India. Report, World Bank, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  54. Zhang J, Tsujimura M, Song X, Sakakibara K (2016) Using stable isotopes and major ions to investigate the interaction between shallow and deep groundwater in Baiyangdian Lake Watershed, North China Plain. Hydrol Res Lett 10:67–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. K. Behera
    • 1
    Email author
  • G. J. Chakrapani
    • 1
  • S. Kumar
    • 2
  • N. Rai
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesIndian Institute of Technology RoorkeeUttarakhandIndia
  2. 2.Hydrological Investigations DivisionNational Institute of HydrologyRoorkeeIndia

Personalised recommendations