Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 359–368 | Cite as

A palaeo-hydrogeological model for arsenic contamination in southern and south-east Asia

  • Gordon StangerEmail author


An argument is presented in which areas of natural arsenic contamination of modern groundwaters throughout Asia have a common origin. Arsenic originally accumulated in oceanic ferro-manganoan sediments of the eastern Palaeo-Tethys. This was further concentrated through oceanic crustal extinction in what later became the south-east Chinese accreted mineralised terrain. Proto-Himalayan uplift of this area created the palaeo-drainage systems of the Ganges – Brahmaputra, Irrawaddy, Mekong, and Red Rivers, with consequent headwater erosion of arsenic-rich sediments. Their downstream deposition as immature and easily redistributed Neogene sandstones, silts, and iron-rich clays has created secondary and tertiary reservoirs of adsorbed and authigenic arsenic, from which the current arsenic-rich groundwaters have evolved. Considering river basins within the above palaeo-hydrogeological framework provides a basis for assessing the risk of arsenic in groundwater basins of south and south-eastern Asia.

Key Words

arsenic Chindwin Cimmeride Ganges GBM groundwater Irrawady Mekong Meso-Tethys Naga Palaeo-Tethys Qamdo-Simao Red River Siwalik Salween 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UNDPSanaáYemen

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