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Groundwater evolution in the Voltaian Basin, Ghana—an application of multivariate statistical analysesto hydrochemical data

Author(s): Sandow Mark Yidana | Gerard B. Yiran | Patrick Asamoah Sakyi | Prosper M. Nude | Bruce Banoeng-Yakubo

Journal: Natural Science
ISSN 2150-4091

Volume: 03;
Issue: 10;
Start page: 837;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Hierarchical Cluster Analysis | Factor Analysis | Voltaian Basin | Silicate Weathering

Multivariate statistical methods were applied to hydrochemical data obtained from various field sampling campaigns in order to highlight the major groundwater types and the evolution of groundwater from recharge areas to discharge areas in the groundwater flow regime. Q-mode hierarchical cluster analysis distinguished four major hydrochemical types: Ca-HCO3 low salinity fresh groundwater in the south of the basin, through Na-HCO3 fresh low to intermediate salinity groundwater types, to saline-brackish Na- Cl groundwater types in the north of the basin. The concentrations of the major hydrochemical parameters also increase from south to north, suggesting that groundwater evolves from apparent recharge areas in the south to saline- brackish Na-Cl groundwater types in the north. On the basis of the observed variation in the hydrochemical data, this study hypothesizes that the southern parts of the basin are the major recharge areas in the basin, whereas the northern sections are discharge locations in the groundwater flow regime. R-mode factor analysis was then applied to the data to differentiate the various factors responsible for the observed hydrochemical variations. Four factors were distinguished: dissolution of chlorides of the major ions, silicate mineral weathering and organic matter oxidation, dissolution of kieserite group of minerals, and anthropogenic contamination. Of all these factors, silicate mineral weathering is the most pervasive throughout the study area. This is apparently due to the presence of silicate minerals almost everywhere in the terrain. This analysis was determined by means of factor scores computed from the factor loadings and the standardized dataset through regression. The resulting refined factor scores were then interpolated by ordinary kriging. The dissolution of the chlorides and kieserite group of minerals are limited to locations where such minerals are present in the lithology. Anthropogenic contamination of the aquifers occurs almost everywhere within the basin but the effects are generally low.
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