Front. Water
Sec. Water and Hydrocomplexity
doi: 10.3389/frwa.2022.960669

Investigation and evidence of high episodic groundwater recharge events in tropical hard-rock aquifers of southern India

  • 1Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), India
Provisionally accepted:
The final, formatted version of the article will be published soon.

Processes controlling groundwater recharge have been a topic of pursuit in the hydrological research community. The groundwater recharge in hard-rock aquifers is significantly impacted by rainfall pattern, aquifer characteristics, weathering/soil condition, topography, land use and land cover. Analysis of the recharge process in tropical semi-arid hard-rock aquifer regions of southern India is crucial due to several factors, including (a) a heavily tailed monsoon system prevailing in the region, which is characterized by very few episodic storm events (b) heterogeneity of aquifers in terms of fractures (c) presence of several man-made irrigation lakes/tanks along with the drainage network. This study uses a lumped unconfined aquifer model to estimate the groundwater recharge for 9 locations in Gundlupet taluk and 150 locations in Berambadi Experimental Watershed (EWS) in the south Indian state Karnataka. Analysis of estimated recharge factors identifies 30 high episodic recharge events out of 292 observations (around 10%) in Gundlupet taluk and 80 out of 150 locations in 2017 in Berambadi EWS. Partial information correlation (PIC) analysis is used to select the significant predictors out of potential predictors based on rainfall intensity distribution and climatological indices. PIC analysis reveals that the number of rainfall events with 15-30 mm daily rainfall intensity are most significant for normal recharge events in Gundlupet taluk and Berambadi EWS. Combined information of daily rainfall distribution, daily rainfall events of 20-40 mm and number of La Niña months in a particular year, is able to explain the variability of high episodic recharge events in Gundlupet taluk. These high-intensity rainfall events can be potential sources of alternate recharge pathways resulting in faster indirect recharge which dominates the diffused recharge and results in high episodic recharge events. Rainfall intensity distribution and climatological indices contain the potential information required to disaggregate normal and high episodic recharge factors for future rainfall projections, which is useful for future groundwater level projections.

Keywords: Groundwater, hard-rock aquifer, critical Zone, Tropics, South India, partial information correlation, Episodic recharge

Received: 03 Jun 2022; Accepted: 30 Aug 2022.

Copyright: © 2022 Goswami and Sekhar. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Muddu Sekhar, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Department of Civil Engineering, Bangalore, India