Hydrogeochemical evolution of groundwater in a Quaternary sediment and Cretaceous sandstone unconfined aquifer in Northwestern China

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A better understanding of the hydrogeochemical evolution of groundwater in vulnerable aquifers is important for the protection of water resources. To assess groundwater chemistry, groundwater sampling was performed from different representative aquifers in 2012–2013. A Piper trilinear diagram showed that the groundwater types can be classified into Na–SO4 and Na–Cl types. Only one groundwater sample was Na–HCO3 type. The dominant cations for all samples were Na+. However, the dominant anions varied from HCO3 to SO4 2−, and as well Cl. The mean total dissolved solid (TDS) content of groundwater in the region was 1889 mg/L. Thus, only 20% of groundwater samples meet Chinese drinking water standards (< 1000 mg/L). Principal component analysis (PCA) combined with hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) and self-organizing maps (SOM) were applied for the classification of the groundwater geochemistry. The three first principal components explained 58, 20, and 16% of the variance, respectively. The first component reflects sulfate minerals (gypsum, anhydrite) and halite dissolution, and/or evaporation in the shallow aquifer. The second and third components are interpreted as carbonate rock dissolution. The reason for two factors is that the different aquifers give rise to different degree of hydrogeochemical evolution (different travel distances and travel times). Identified clusters for evolution characteristic and influencing factors were confirmed by the PCA–HCA methods. Using information from eight ion components and SOM, formation mechanisms and influencing factors for the present groundwater quality were determined.


External organisations
  • Nagasaki University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources


  • Hydrogeochemical characteristics, Principal component analysis, Self-organizing maps, Sulfate minerals, The Dosit River
Original languageEnglish
Article number629
JournalEnvironmental Earth Sciences
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Publication categoryResearch