Quantitative evaluation of management strategies for long-term supply of safe groundwater for drinking from the Bengal Basin aquifer (India and Bangladesh) requires estimation of the large-scale hydrogeologic properties that control flow. The Basin consists of a stratified, heterogeneous sequence of sediments with aquitards that may separate aquifers locally, but evidence does not support existence of regional confining units. Considered at a large scale, the Basin may be aptly described as a single aquifer with higher horizontal than vertical hydraulic conductivity. Though data are sparse, estimation of regional-scale aquifer properties is possible from three existing data types: hydraulic heads, 14C concentrations, and driller logs. Estimation is carried out with inverse groundwater modeling using measured heads, by model calibration using estimated water ages based on 14C, and by statistical analysis of driller logs. Similar estimates of hydraulic conductivities result from all three data types; a resulting typical value of vertical anisotropy (ratio of horizontal to vertical conductivity) is 104. The vertical anisotropy estimate is supported by simulation of flow through geostatistical fields consistent with driller log data. The high estimated value of vertical anisotropy in hydraulic conductivity indicates that even disconnected aquitards, if numerous, can strongly control the equivalent hydraulic parameters of an aquifer system. ?? US Government 2009.
Additional Publication Details
Estimation of regional-scale groundwater flow properties in the Bengal Basin of India and Bangladesh