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Groundwater chemistry and demarcation of seawater intrusion zones in the Thamirabarani delta of south India based on geochemical signatures

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Sub-surface water samples from the delta of Thamirabarani River of south India were evaluated for human health risks and seawater intrusion using the geochemical signatures. Electrical conductivity (EC), total dissolved solids (TDS), pH and the concentrations of major cations and anions in 40 samples collected during the winter (January) and summer (July) of 2018 show comparable values. Subsequently, the results were verified with respect to the international drinking water quality standards. The piper trilinear diagram shows mixed Ca–Mg–Cl, Na–Cl, Ca–HCO3 and mixed Ca–Na–HCO3 facies in the samples. Similarly, the plenteous of cations are sequenced as Na+ > Ca2+ > Mg2+ > K+ and the plenteous of anions are sequenced as Cl > SO42− > HCO3>Br > NO3 > PO4. Gibbs plots illustrate that rock–water interaction and evaporation control the geochemistry of sub-surface water. More than 40% of the samples are unsuitable for drinking, and their higher EC and TDS values reflected the seawater intrusion, in addition to the anthropogenic activities (salt panning). Interrelationship between ions of sub-surface water was used to get a better insight into the saline water intrusion in the study area. To mitigate the river water salinization and seawater incursion in the aquifers, engineering solution such as weir construction across the Thamirabarani River near Mukkani village has been proposed. After construction of the weir, freshwater in the river can be diverted to the salt-affected and seawater-intruded areas to improve the scenario.

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The authors are grateful to the Department of Civil Engineering, Government College of Technology, Coimbatore, for providing the research facilities.

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Correspondence to T. Subramani.

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Satheeskumar, V., Subramani, T., Lakshumanan, C. et al. Groundwater chemistry and demarcation of seawater intrusion zones in the Thamirabarani delta of south India based on geochemical signatures. Environ Geochem Health (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10653-020-00536-z

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  • Geochemical signature
  • Drinking water quality
  • Seawater intrusion
  • Thamirabarani delta
  • South India