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int. j. remote sensing, 2000, vol. 21, no. 9, 1919–1924

int. j. remote sensing, 2000 , vol. 21 , no. 9, 1919–1924 Groundwater potential modelling in/ ISSN 1366-5901 online © 2000 Taylor & Francis Ltd http: // / journals " id="pdf-obj-0-9" src="pdf-obj-0-9.jpg">

Groundwater potential modelling in a soft rock area using a GIS

S. SHAHID1, S. K. NATH1 and J. ROY2

1Department of Geology and Geophysics, Indian Institute of Technology, 2Regional Remote Sensing Service Center, Kharagpur-721 302, India

(Received 8February 1999; in nal form 8 September 1999)

Abstract. A GeographicalInformationSystem (GIS) integrationtool is proposed to demarcate the groundwater potential zone in a soft rock area using seven hydrogeologic themes: lithology, geomorphology, soil, net recharge, drainage density, slope and surface water bodies. Except for net recharge and slope, the other ve themes are derived from remote sensing data. IRS-1B LISS-II data was used for a 631km2 area in Midnapur District, West Bengal, India. While slope was calculated using topographic sheets, net recharge was obtained from annual water table uctuation data. Each feature of all the thematic maps was evaluated according to its relative importance in the prediction of groundwater potential. The evolved GIS-based model of the study area was found to be in strong agreement with available borehole and pumping test data.

1. Introduction

The occurrence and movement of groundwater are controlled mainly by porosity and permeability of the surface and underlying lithology. The same lithology forming diŒerent geomorphic units will have variable porosity and permeability, thereby causing changes in the potential of groundwater. This is also true for the same geomorphic unit with variable lithology. Surface hydrological features like topo- graphy, drainage density, water bodies, etc., play an important role in groundwater replenishment. High relief and steep slopes impart higher runoŒ, while the topograph- ical depressions help in an increased in ltration. An area of high drainage density also increases surface runoŒcompared to a low drainage density area. Surface water bodies like river, ponds, etc., can act as recharge zones, enhancing the groundwater potential in the neighbourhood (Karanth 1987). Hence, identi cation and quantiza- tion of these features are important in generating groundwater potential model of a particular area. A Geographic Information System (GIS) can be used eŒectively for this purpose to combine diŒerent hydrogeological themes objectively and analyse those systematically for demarcating the potential zone. Chi and Lee (1994) and Krishnamurthy et al. (1996) successfully used remote sensing and GIS in a diverse geological setup for the demarcation of groundwater potential zones in Kochang, Korea, and Marudaiyar river basin, Tamilnadu, India, respectively. In the present study, an empirical model is developed using GIS for the qualitative assessment of groundwater potential in the soft rock area of Midnapur District, West Bengal, India. The resulting model is correlated with the available borehole and pumping test data.

International Journal of Remote Sensing ISSN 0143-1161 print/ISSN 1366-5901 online © 2000 Taylor & Francis Ltd

  • 1920 S. Shahid et al.

    • 2. Methodology

The GIS used hydrogeologic settings of an area as the basic mapping units. Seven themes were evaluated: (i) lithology (L), (ii) geomorphology (G), (iii) soil (S), (iv) net recharge (R), (v) drainage density (D), (vi) slope (E) and (vii) surface water body (W). Each theme was assigned a value from 1 to 7 on the basis of its direct control of the groundwater occurrence. Each feature of an individual theme was next ranked in the 1–10 scale in the ascending order of hydrogeologic signi cance. The Ground Water Potential Index (GWPI) for an integrated layer was calculated using GIS as GWPI = (L w L r +G w G r +S w S r +R w R r +D w D r +E w E r +W w W r )/Sw (1) where the index ‘w’ represents the weight of a theme and ‘r’ the rank of a feature in the theme. GWPI is a dimensionless quantity that helps in indexing the probable ground- water potential zones in an area.

  • 3. Study area

The test site in Midnapur District, West Bengal, India (87ß10¾E 22ß15¾N to 87ß22¾30 ² E 22ß27¾30 ² N), covering an area of 631km2, falls under the Gangetic West Bengal region and has an average annual rainfall of 152cm and a temperature of 31ßC. This forms a typical soft rock area having hydrogeological conditions favour- able for shallow groundwater reserve. This was, therefore, best suited for testing the proposed GIS integration tool.

  • 4. Preparation of thematic maps

All the thematic maps were prepared in the 1550000 scale with a spatial resolution of 0.1km2 using the GIS package ARC/INFO. Depending on the relative importance in groundwater exploration, the themes were assigned speci c weights as indicated in table 1. As used by Krishnamurthy et al. (1996), geomorphology was assigned the highest weight of 7, while surface water body was assigned the least value of 1. Thematic map preparations and ranking of various features are highlighted below. L ithology. The lithological map of the area was prepared from the standard false colour composite (FCC) of Indian Remote Sensing (IRS-1B) Linear Image Scanner System (LISS-II) data ( gure 1(a)). Three types of lithounits were observed in the satellite sensor image: (i) laterite, as light bluish tone with coarse texture; (ii) older alluvium, as dark bluish tone with ne texture; and (iii) newer alluvium, as white and red tone with medium texture. Lithounits were ranked on the basis of their ground- water yield capacity as indicated in table 1. Geomorphology. The geomorphological map of the area was prepared from the

hybrid FCC of principal component analysis of bands 1, 2 and 3 as shown in gure 1(b). The following seven geomorphologic units were identi ed in the area:

(i) older deltaic formation, by reddish brown tone and ne texture; (ii) older ®lled valley cuts, by reddish brown tone and coarse texture in the lateritic formation; (iii) younger deltaic formation, by bluish tone and medium to coarse texture; (iv) younger ®lled valley cuts, by bluish tone and medium to coarse texture in older deltaic formation; (v) recent deltaic formation by light yellow tone and ne texture; (vi) hard crust of laterites by reddish yellow tone and coarse texture; (vii) mottled clay of laterites by reddish brown tone and ne to medium texture. Depending on

Remote Sensing L etters


Table 1. Thematic map weight and feature ranking.







Recent deltaic formation



Younger deltaic formation


Older deltaic formation


Younger ll valley cuts


Older ll valley cuts


Hard crust of laterite


Mottled clay of laterite




Younger alluvium



Older alluvium






Sandy loam





Silty clay


Sandy clayey loam


Clayey loam


Net recharge (m)









Drainage density (km kmÕ 2)


< 0.75











> 3.75


Slope (%)













Surface water body (area with radii, m)


< 25





> 75


the hydrogeological signi cance, the geomorphic features were ranked as given in table 1. Soil. The soil map of the area as shown in gure 1(c) was prepared using remote sensing data, aerial photographs and eld investigation. The area is covered by ve soil types: (i) sandy loam; (ii) loam; (iii) silty clay; (iv) sandy clayey loam; and (v) clayey loam. Soil ranking as indicated in table 1 was done on the basis of its in ltration capability. Net recharge. The net recharge can be calculated form the annual water table uctuation data in an area. A net recharge of 25 cm and above was ranked 10 following the DRASTIC ratings of Aller et al. (1987). The present area was found to be in this class. Drainage density. Using standard FCC, a drainage map of the area was prepared for developing the thematic map of the drainage density as presented in gure 1(d). Following Krishnamurthy et al. (1996), the features of drainage density were ranked in the 1–10 range as indicated in table 1. Slope. The elevation contours in the topographic sheet No. 73N/7 of the Survey

  • 1922 S. Shahid et al.

1922 S. Shahid et al. Figure 1. Thematic map of ( a ) lithounit, ( b

Figure 1. Thematic map of (a) lithounit, (b) geomorphology, (c) soil, (d) drainage density,

  • (e) slope and (f ) surface water body of the area.

of India helped in generating the slope thematic map ( gure 1(e)), each feature of which was ranked following the DRASTIC ratings. Surface water body. The surface water body thematic map of gure 1( f) was generated from standard FCC. Although there is no yardstick as to what extent the surface water bodies can recharge in the immediate vicinity, two buŒer zones with radii 25 and 75m were chosen, and they were ranked as 6 and 3, respectively. Using the above thematic maps, the GIS integration was performed.

Remote Sensing L etters

  • 5. Integration and modelling


The rank of each thematic map was scaled by the weight of that theme. All the

thematic maps were then registered with one another through ground control points and integrated step by step using the normalized aggregation method in GIS for computing the GWPI of each feature. The evolved thematic map of groundwater potential of the area is displayed in gure 2(a).

Remote Sensing L etters 5. Integration and modelling 1923 The rank of each thematic map was

Figure 2. (a) Thematic map of GWPI model depicting groundwater potential. (b) Location of boreholes and pumping wells in the study area with available lithosection.

  • 1924 Remote Sensing L etters

Table 2. Transmissivity and storativity values from pumping test.

Pumping location

Transmissivity (m2 sÕ 1) Storativity



















  • 6. Field veri cation

The accuracy of the estimates from the GIS model was determined with the existing borehole and pumping test data. The locations of boreholes along with the lithosection and pumping test sites (T1–T6) are shown on the GWPI map given in gure 2(b). Litholog sections obtained from the boreholes clearly show that an approximately 10m-thick shallow aquifer of coarse sand is present in the area where GWPI is greater than or equal to 8. An approximately 8 m-thick shallow sandy aquifer is occupying the zone where GWPI is between 6 and 8. A thin ne sand and morum sand layer can be detected in the zone where GWPI is less than 6. From the pumping test data presented in table 2, the transmissivity and storativity values are also found to be higher in the large GWPI (µ8) zone (pumping well locations T1–T5). At location T6, the zone of moderate transmissivity and storativity, GWPI is within 6 and 8.

  • 7. Conclusion

A model was developed to assess the groundwater potential of a soft rock area by integrating seven hydrogeologic themes through GIS. The eld veri cation of this model undoubtedly establishes the e cacy of the GIS integration tool in demarc- ating the potential groundwater reserve in soft rock terrain. Hence, this method can

be used routinely in groundwater exploration in favourable geological conditions.


Aller, L., Bennet, T., Lehr, J. H., Petty, R. J., and Hackett, G., 1987, DRASTIC:

A standardized system for evaluating ground water pollution potential using hydro- geologic settings. EPA/600/2-85-018, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, USA. Chi, K.-H., and Lee, B.-J., 1994, Extracting potential groundwater area using remotely sensed data and GIS techniques. Proceedings of the Regional Seminar on Integrated Applications of Remote Sensing and GIS for L and and Water Resources Management, Bangkok (Bangkok: Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Paci c), pp. 64–69. Krishnamurthy, J., Kumar Venkates, N., Jayaraman, V., and Manivel, M., 1996, An approach to demarcate ground water potential zones through remote sensing and a Geographic Information System. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 17,

Karanth, K. R., 1987, Ground Water Assessment Development and Management (New York: