Geochemical evolution of groundwater in hard-rock aquifers of South India using statistical and modelling techniques

Multivariate statistical analysis and inverse geochemical modelling techniques were employed to deduce the mechanism of groundwater evolution in the hard-rock terrain of Telangana, South India. Q-mode hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) and principal component analysis (PCA) were used to extract the hydrogeochemical characteristics and classify the groundwater samples into three principal groups. Use of thermodynamic stability diagrams and inverse geochemical modelling in PHREEQC identified the chemical reactions controlling hydrogeochemistry of each of the groups obtained from statistical analysis. The model output showed that a few phases are governing the water chemistry in this area and the geochemical reactions responsible for evolution of groundwater chemistry along the flow path are (i) dissolution of evaporite minerals (dolomite, halite); (ii) dissolution of primary silicate minerals (albite, anorthite, K-feldspar, biotite); (iii) precipitation of secondary silicate minerals (kaolinite, quartz, gibbsite, Ca-montmorillonite) along with anhydrite and calcite; and (iv) reverse ion exchange processes.