Advancements in hydrochemistry mapping: methods and application to groundwater arsenic and iron concentrations in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India

  • Ricardo A. OleaEmail author
  • N. Janardhana Raju
  • Juan José Egozcue
  • Vera Pawlowsky-Glahn
  • Shubhra Singh
Original Paper


The area east of Varanasi is one of numerous places along the watershed of the Ganges River with groundwater concentrations of arsenic surpassing the maximum value of 10 parts per billion (ppb) recommended by the World Health Organization in drinking water. Here we apply geostatistics and compositional data analysis for the mapping of arsenic and iron to help in understanding the conditions leading to the occurrence of elevated level of arsenic in groundwater. The methodology allows for displaying concentrations of arsenic and iron as maps consistent with the limited information from 95 water wells across an area of approximately 210 km2; visualization of the uncertainty associated with the sampling; and summary of the findings in the form of probability maps. For thousands of years, Varanasi has been on the erosional side in a meander of the river that is free of arsenic values above 10 ppb. Maps reveal two anomalies of high arsenic concentrations on the depositional side of the valley, which has started seeing urban development. The methodology using geostatistics combined with compositional data analysis is completely general, so this study could be used as a prototype for hydrochemistry mapping in other areas.


Ganges River Geostatistics Stochastic simulation Compositional data analysis Isometric logratio transformation Balance Geochemistry 



This paper completed a mandatory review and approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS; before final submission to the journal. We wish to thank Tanya Gallegos (USGS) and Josep Martín-Fernández (University of Girona) for suggestions that helped in improving the manuscript. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. N. Janardhana Raju has been supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), New Delhi, under research project “SERC” (SR/S4/ES-160/2005) during 2006–2008. J.J. Egozcue and V. Pawlowsky-Glahn have been supported by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science under projects ‘CODA-RETOS’ (Ref. MTM2015-65016-C2-1-R MINECO/FEDER.UE) and ‘COSDA’ (Ref. 2014SGR551); and by the Agència de Gestió d’Ajuts Universitaris i de Recerca of the Generalitat de Catalunya.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.(out side the USA) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ricardo A. Olea
    • 1
    Email author
  • N. Janardhana Raju
    • 2
  • Juan José Egozcue
    • 3
  • Vera Pawlowsky-Glahn
    • 4
  • Shubhra Singh
    • 5
  1. 1.U.S. Geological SurveyRestonUSA
  2. 2.School of Environmental SciencesJawaharlal Nehru UniversityNew DelhiIndia
  3. 3.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringTechnical University of CataloniaBarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.Department of Computer Sciences, Applied Mathematics and StatisticsUniversity of GironaGironaSpain
  5. 5.Center for the Study of Science, Technology and PolicyBangaloreIndia

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