Shallow hydrostratigraphy in an arsenic affected region of Bengal Basin : implication for targeting safe aquifers for drinking water supply

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To delineate arsenic (As) safe aquifer(s) within shallow depth, the present study has investigated the shallow hydrostratigraphic framework over an area of 100km(2) at Chakdaha Block of Nadia District, West Bengal. Drilling of 29 boreholes and subsequent hydrostratigraphic modeling has identified three types of aquifer within 50m below ground level (bgl). Aquifer-1 represents a thick paleochannel sequence, deposited parallel to the River Hooghly and Ichamati. Aquifer-2 is formed locally within the overbank deposits in the central floodplain area and its vertical extension is strictly limited to 25m bgl. Aquifer-3 is distributed underneath the overbank deposits and represents an interfluvial aquifer of the area. Aquifer-3 is of Pleistocene age (~70ka), while aquifer-1 and 2 represent the Holocene deposits (age <9.51ka), indicating that there was a major hiatus in the sediment deposition after depositing the aquifer-3. Over the area, aquifer-3 is markedly separated from the overlying Holocene deposits by successive upward sequences of brown and olive to pale blue impervious clay layers. The groundwater quality is very much similar in aquifer-1 and 2, where the concentration of As and Fe very commonly exceeds 10μg/L and 5mg/L, respectively. Based on similar sediment color, these two aquifers have jointly been designated as the gray sand aquifer (GSA), which constitutes 40% (1.84×10(9)m(3)) of the total drilled volume (4.65×10(9)m(3)). In aquifer-3, the concentration of As and Fe is very low, mostly <2μg/L and 1mg/L, respectively. This aquifer has been designated as the brown sand aquifer (BSA) according to color of the aquifer materials and represents 10% (4.8×10(8)m(3)) of the total drilled volume. This study further documents that though the concentration of As is very low at BSA, the concentration of Mn often exceeds the drinking water guidelines.


  • Ashis Biswas
  • Prosun Bhattacharya
  • Abhijit Mukherjee
  • Bibhash Nath
  • Helena Alexanderson
  • Amit K Kundu
  • Debashis Chatterjee
  • Gunnar Jacks
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Environmental Sciences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-22
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Publication categoryResearch