Geochemical classification of groundwater using multivariate statistical analysis in Latvia

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Multivariate statistical methods – principal component analysis (PCA) and hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) – are applied to identify geochemically distinct groundwater groups in the territory of Latvia. The main processes observed to be responsible for groundwater chemical composition are carbonate and gypsum dissolution, fresh and saltwater mixing and ion exchange. On the basis of major ion concentrations, eight clusters (C1–C8) are identified. C6 is interpreted as recharge water not in equilibrium with most sediment forming minerals. Water table aquifers affected by diffuse agricultural influences are found in C3. Groundwater in C4 reflects brine or seawater admixture and gypsum dissolution in C5. C7 and C2 belong to typical bicarbonate groundwater resulting from calcite and dolomite weathering. Extremely low Cl and SO42− are observed in C8 and described as pre-industrial groundwater or a solely carbonate weathering result. Finally, C1 seems to be a poorly defined subgroup resulting from mixing between other groups. This research demonstrates the validity of applying multivariate statistical methods (PCA and HCA) on major ion chemistry to distribute characteristic trace elements in each cluster even when incomplete records of trace elements are present.

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