Quality and hydrochemical assessment of groundwater in geological transition zones: a case study from N.E. Nigeria

Abdullateef Lawal, Moshood N. Tijani, Daniel Snow, Matteo D’Alessio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Sustainable management of groundwater resources in geological transition zones (GTZ) is essential due to their complex geology, increasing population, industrialization, and climate change. Groundwater quality monitoring and assessment represent a viable panacea to this problem. Therefore, there is a great need to investigate groundwater resources in terms of their chemistry and pollution to ascertain their quality and implement robust pollution abatement strategies. This study focused on the characterization of groundwater in a typical geological transition zone in northeastern Nigeria. Eighty-seven (87) groundwater samples were collected from dug wells and boreholes during the 2017 dry season. pH, conductivity, and total dissolved solids (TDS) were measured in situ using a multiparameter probe, while major cations and anions were measured using atomic absorption spectrometry and ion chromatography, respectively. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, principal component analysis (PCA), water quality index, and standard hydrochemical plots. TDS ranged between 95 and 1154 mg L−1 in basement terrains and between 49 and 1105 in sedimentary areas. pH ranged between 6.8 and 7.7 mg L−1 in basement terrains and between 5.0 and 6.5 in sedimentary areas, suggesting a moderately acidic to alkaline low mineralized groundwater. Calcium (2.6–128.0 mg L−1) was the dominant cation in the basement areas, suggesting silicate weathering/dissolution, while sodium (1.9–106.0 mg L−1) dominated the sedimentary zones due to base exchange reactions. The PCA analysis suggests that mineral dissolution (mostly silicate weathering) controls the hydrochemistry of the basement aquifers, while ion exchange and albite weathering, with some influence of anthropogenic factor, control the sedimentary aquifers. The water quality index revealed that the basement setting was predominated by poor to unsuitable groundwater, while the sedimentary terrain was characterized by potable groundwater. The dominant hydrochemical facie in the basement areas was Ca2+–(Mg2+)–HCO3 characteristic of recharge meteoric water. The Na+– (K+)–HCO3 facie characterized the sedimentary zones, indicative of cation exchange reactions, while the mixed water facie typifies the geological contact zones. The shallow nature of the basement groundwaters makes them more susceptible to geogenic and anthropogenic pollution compared to the sandstone aquifers. However, the basement aquifers have better irrigation indices (Kelly ratio and soluble sodium percent) as compared to the sandstone aquifers, which exhibit poor Kelly ratios (< 1) and soluble sodium percent (> 50) ratings. Results from the study clearly highlight the poor-unsuitable groundwater quality in parts of the studied GTZ and can be very instrumental to the policymakers in implementing sustainable water treatment strategies and cleaner production technologies in GTZ to forestall the incidence of water-related diseases. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10643-10663
Number of pages21
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • Cation exchange
  • Groundwater
  • Hydrochemistry
  • Kelly ratio
  • Northeastern Nigeria
  • Water quality index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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