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Groundwater arsenic content in quaternary aquifers of the Red River delta, Vietnam, controlled by the hydrogeological processes
20/06/22 10:12AM
Jolanta Kazmierczak, Trung Trang Dang, Rasmus Jakobsen, et al. Journal of Hydrology, 609: 127778, 2022.
Abstract: The relation between arsenic groundwater concentrations and hydrogeological processes was investigated in the proximal part of the Red River delta, Vietnam, west of the depression cone formed by the exploitation of groundwater in Hanoi. Flow paths in the Quaternary aquifers were modeled based on previously interpreted geological structure and hydrogeological data gathered during field work in 2014–2017. Sedimentary structures and simulated flow patterns were compared with the spatial distribution of the groundwater arsenic concentration. The regression of the sea in the area started 4 ka BP in the Holocene. The low tectonic subsidence rate of the Red River delta led to intensive erosion and replacement of fine grained sediments of the sea level high stand by sandy channel belts, resulting in hydraulic connections between the Pleistocene and Holocene aquifers. The Pleistocene aquifer is recharged by both regional flow paths and naturally occurring vertical recharge through Holocene sand and clay layers. Young groundwater (<40 a) in the shallow Holocene aquifer generally discharges to surface water bodies. The shallow flow system is also seasonally recharged with surface water, as indicated by δ18O enrichment of groundwater and oscillating groundwater ages in wells in the vicinity of water channels. The deeper flow system discharges into the Red River and Day River or flows parallel to the rivers, toward the sea. The overall pattern of arsenic groundwater concentrations (decreasing with increasing sediment age) is modified by groundwater flow. The arsenic contamination of the Pleistocene aquifer of the Red River delta is not only caused by the intensive groundwater abstraction in Hanoi, as reported previously, but also by the natural flow of high arsenic groundwater from Holocene to Pleistocene aquifers in areas located outside of the depression cone. Groundwater with < 50 µg L-1 arsenic is found in the Pleistocene aquifer close to the recharge zone in the mountains bordering the Red River delta and in the Holocene and Pleistocene aquifers where clay deposits were eroded. Close to the recent Red River channel, recharge of older Holocene and Pleistocene sediments occurs partially by arsenic-contaminated groundwater from the youngest Holocene aquifers, and here arsenic concentrations exceed 50 µg L-1. A high arsenic concentration is also present in the early Holocene-Pleistocene aquifer, beneath thick clay layers, indicating a limited extent of flushing and the inflow of fresh organic matter.