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Influence of hydrological and hydrogeological factors on inland groundwater salinity in a hard rock aquifer, south India


Groundwater salinization has become a worldwide problem, impacting further agricultural advancements and thereby economic progress in various parts of the globe. Understanding the mechanism and processes behind groundwater salinization is crucial, especially in arid and semi-arid regions, where groundwater quality makes up the basic necessity for agriculture due to low rainfall with little to no surface water. To understand the salinity of groundwater, a monthly climatic water balance is calculated using climatological parameters. Change in the hydrochemistry between pre-monsoon and post-monsoon seasons with reference to local rainfall was used to assess the salinity change for the study period. Stable isotope (oxygen-18 and hydrogen-2) data of groundwater and rainfall was used to assess the groundwater recharge conditions in the study area. Climatic water balance studies show that cyclic dry and wet climatic conditions are favourable to accumulate salts on the surface of the soil, which later migrate to the water table during the monsoon season. Increased electrical conductivity values in most of the bore wells during the post-monsoon season further prove the migration of salts during the rainfall recharge, resulting in high salinity of the groundwater.

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The authors are grateful to the Director, CSIR – National Geophysical Research Institute, for the permission and encouragement to publish this work. The first author gratefully acknowledges Dr V M Tiwari, Mentor, and Director, CSIR-NGRI, and Dr Shakeel Ahmed, Retired Chief Scientist, CSIR-NGRI for their support and encouragement throughout this project and also to the Department of Science and Technology (DST) New Delhi, for financial assistance in the form of Women Scientists Scheme (WOS-A) Projects (Nos. SR/WOS-A/ES-20/2013(G) and SR/WOS-A/EA-08/2017(G)). The authors are thankful to the editor, associate editor, and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable suggestions and constructive comments that greatly enhanced the quality of the manuscript.

Author information




P D Sreedevi carried out the fieldwork, participated in the lab analysis, and drafted the manuscript. D V Reddy participated in lab analysis and helped to draft the manuscript and P D Sreekanth carried out the fieldwork and helped to draft the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to P D Sreedevi.

Additional information

Communicated by Dipankar Saha

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Sreedevi, P.D., Sreekanth, P.D. & Reddy, D.V. Influence of hydrological and hydrogeological factors on inland groundwater salinity in a hard rock aquifer, south India. J Earth Syst Sci 130, 215 (2021).

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  • Rainfall
  • potential evapotranspiration
  • major ion chemistry
  • stable isotopes
  • salinity process