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Major ion chemistry of the Son River, India: Weathering processes, dissolved fluxes and water quality assessment


River Son, draining diverse lithologies in the subtropical climate of the peninsular sub-basin of the Ganga basin, is one of the major tributaries of the Ganga River. The chemistry of major ions in the surface water of the Son River was studied in detail to determine various source(s) and processes controlling its water chemistry, seasonal and spatial variations in water chemistry, dissolved fluxes and chemical denudation rate (CDR). The study shows that Ca2+, Mg2+ and HCO\(_{\mathrm {3}}^{\mathrm {-}}\) are major ionic species in the river water. Most of the measured parameters exhibit a relatively lower concentration in the post-monsoon as compared to pre-monsoon season. The water chemistry highlights the influence of continental weathering aided by secondary contributions from ground water, saline/alkaline soils and anthropogenic activities in the catchment. Results also reflect the dominance of carbonate weathering over silicate weathering in controlling water composition. The Son River delivers about 4.2 million tons of dissolved loads annually to the Ganga River, which accounts for ∼6% of the total annual load carried by the Ganga River to the Bay of Bengal. The average CDR of the Son River is 59.5 tons km −2 yr −1, which is less than the reported 72 tons km −2 yr −1 of the Ganga River and higher than the global average of 36 tons km −2 yr −1. The water chemistry for the pre-monsoon and post-monsoon periods shows a strong seasonal control on solute flux and CDR values. The water chemistry indicates that the Son River water is good to excellent in quality for irrigation and also suitable for drinking purposes.

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CM and SKG thank the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research for financial support in the form of a research fellowship. JKT thanks DST for financial assistance in maintaining the geochemical lab. The Dean, School of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and the Director, Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research, are acknowledged for their help. Authors also thank D Shankar for his editorial handling and valuable suggestions, and the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments that helped in improving the quality of this paper.

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Correspondence to Jayant K Tripathi.

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Maharana, C., Gautam, S.K., Singh, A.K. et al. Major ion chemistry of the Son River, India: Weathering processes, dissolved fluxes and water quality assessment. J Earth Syst Sci 124, 1293–1309 (2015).

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  • Son River
  • Ganga basin
  • hydrogeochemistry
  • weathering
  • flux and denudation rates
  • water quality