Journal of Geographic Information System, 2010, 2, 220-227
doi:10.4236/jgis.2010.24031 Published Online October 2010 (
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JGIS
Evaluation of Hydrogeology of the Lower Son Valley Based
on Remote Sensing Data
Manas Banerjee1*, Debolin Bhattacharya1, Hriday Narain Singh1, Daya Shanker2
1Department of Geophysics, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India
2Department of Earthquake Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, Roorkee, India
Received July 31, 2010; revised September 2, 2010; accepted September 8, 2010
Remote sensing, one of the most important reconnaissance and feature identifying tools generally applied for
surface and groundwater investigation, was used for water resources mapping for the lower Son Valley in this
study. The mapping was done with the help of Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellite imagery IRS-LISS-
1-B1 for January 29, 1991 obtained during the day transit time. The area under study comprises adjoining
parts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states of India and extends over the seven districts, namely Bhojpur, Rohtas,
Patna, Jahanabad, Aurangabad, Ballia and Chapra. Geology of the study area is quite complex, tectonically
disturbed and shows four major cycles of depositions after erosions during last one billion years (since Cre-
taceous). Two lineaments mapped by GSI (Geological Survey of India) in western side of river Son in the
Bhojpur district can also be identified by the satellite imagery. In the present study, apart from these linea-
ments, two new lineaments have been investigated, which run almost parallel to river Ganga in northwest
parts of the area in Ballia district. The lineaments may play a very vital role in groundwater monitoring in the
area. The detailed study of geomorphology, vegetation and geology of the Lower Son valley on the basis of
photo-interpretation techniques for surface features, drainage pattern and density, and drainage texture has
been carried out to determine alluvial type, permeability, tributary, etc. These studies and Darcy velocity
analysis show that the prospect of water is very good for entire lower Son valley. The Bhojpur district is
most prospective for groundwater exploitation.
Keywords: Lower Son Valley, Groundwater Monitoring, Satellite Imageries, Vindhyan Super Group of
Kaimur Series, Lineaments, Drainage Analysis
1. Introduction
Remote sensing is one of the modern tools used for quick
investigations of a country’s natural resource potentiali-
ties with particular reference to the occurrence of the ro-
cks, soils, water and vegetation. Remote sensing studies
of aerial photographs and satellite imageries have proved
to be very important in providing data on parameters that
are essential in judging the water resources of a particu-
lar region. Several authors have used remote sensing for
the investigation of field studies permitted the study of
structures and correlated them with lineament interpreta-
tions [1-9]. Hydro-geological setting of springs and wells
were investigated in the field from well logs and pump-
ing test data. All thematic layers were integrated and
analysed in a GIS. The parameters include the nature and
distribution of vegetation, soil-moisture, drainage pat-
terns and their frequency. Also the other important as-
pects are the nature of rock types and their structural
attitudes and the geomorphologic features of the area.
The geology of the area is quite complex and there are
major tectonic disturbances with four major cycles of
depositions and erosions (diastrophism) during last one
billion years [10]. The basement is Vindhyan super
group of the Kaimur series followed by erosion; then
Rajpur and Mohanpur formations occur and followed by
erosion. Next formation is Hanumannagar which is bare
formation between two erosion unconformities [10]. The
study area covers several districts: Bhojpur, Rohtas,
Patna, Jahanabad, Aurangabad, Ballia and Chapra of the
Uttar Pradesh. In this paper, we investigated two linea-
ments alongside of the river Ganga in northwest parts of
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JGIS
the area in Ballia district, which may play a very vital
role in groundwater monitoring in the area. A detailed
analysis of geomorphology and geology of the Lower
Son valley on the basis of photo-interpretation techniques
for surface features, drainage pattern and density, and
drainage texture has been carried out to determine allu-
vial type, permeability, tributary, etc. As there have been
wide varieties of material exogeny with varying drainage
patterns, textures and densities, the materials are found to
have different hydrologic properties. The Darcy velocity
analysis enab- led to find the flow pattern of ground wa-
ter. Thus, we find that the water potentiality of the entire
Lower Son valley is very high, and there is a very good
prospect for its exploitation in future.
2. Location of the Study Area
2.1. Imagery of the Study Area
The satellite imagery used is IRS LISS 1 B1 (index no.
62PO22-R50), taken on 29th January 1991 at 10:01:24
AM. The scale of the imagery is 1:250000 in the band -1
(Figure 1).
2.2. Coverage of the Study Area
The area under investigation is about 13000 km2 cover-
ing 44 administrative blocks and located between 24.5°-
26° N latitude and 83.5°-84.8° E longitude (Figure 2).
The area of interest is covered by the Survey of India
toposheet No. 72 C & D (1:250000) and extends over se-
ven districts, namely Bhojpur, Rohtas, Patna, Jahanabad,
Aurangabad, Ballia and Chapra.
2.3. Climate
The basin lies in a zone of average rainfall of 1250 mm.
About 88% of the annual precipitation occur during the
four monsoon months June-September, of which 60% is
recorded in only two months, July and August. During
summer, the rainfall is about 3% of the total precipitation
with the air temperature as high as 45°C and the relative
humidity of the basin is 38%. In winter, the minimum air
temperature is 6°C and the relative humidity is 63%. The
daily mean wind speed in December is 4.2 km/hr, which
rises to 8.5 km/hr in May. The average annual wind sp-
eed is 6.5 km/hr.
3. Methodology
In the present study, direct visual analysis has been carri-
ed out from maps of the spatial arrangement, combinati-
ons, relationships, and changes in phenomena for the in-
terpretation of geologic features, such as lineaments, all-
uvial types, land use pattern, geomorphologic features,
etc. The use of direct and indirect indicators has been ma-
de where they were necessary. Some measurements on
the imagery have also been made related to coordinates,
distances, lengths, elevations, areas, and other quantita-
tive characteristics of objects. Mapinfo has been used for
the preparation of maps, particularly for drainage analy-
sis, and to show the flow direction of ground water. The
flow direction of ground water has been determined from
Darcy velocity analysis.
4. Geology of the Area
The entire study area comprises of alluvium which is a
part of Ganga basin [10]. The quality of soils indicates
that the alluvium is fluvial and lacustrine origin of the
Quaternary period. In Bihar, the Vindhyan occurs mainly
in south Rohtas as scarps and plateaus [11]. Geological
formation of the Bhojpur district forms a part of the axial
belt of the Indo-Gangetic plain consisting of newer and
older alluvia. The alluvial sediments consist of clay, fine
to coarse-grained sand, kankar, gravel and have a maxi-
mum thickness along the present course of the Ganga.
The micaceous sands brought and deposited by the river
Ganga is gray in colour and rich in magnesium minerals
(such as serpentine, olivine, talc) and occupy topmost ho-
rizon along the river course for a few kilometers. This la-
yer belongs to the newer alluvium consisting of clay,
kankar, fine to coarse grained sand, gravel and pebble at
depth. The lower Son Valley is formed by the torrent of
the Vindhyan. Therefore, the geological features, drain-
age patterns and their frequencies of occurrence in the
Vindhyan region were mainly responsible for the hy-
dro-geological developments of the area [1].
4.1. Delineation of Lineaments
In photo-geology, the lineaments are defined as linear al-
ignment of features with different shades on photos and
imageries. These could be clearly demarcated on the sat-
ellite imagery IRS-LISS-1-B1 as a distinct tonal varia-
tion in gray shades along two parallel lines in the north-
ern fringe of the lower Son valley in the Bhojpur district
along lines A-A and B-B as shown in Figures 1 and 2.
Two new lineaments have been inferred on the basis of
variation in gray tones through soil characteristics, vege-
tations and drainage patterns in the north-west corner of
the area in the Ballia district along lines C-C and D-D
(Figures 1 and 2). These are clearly demarcated in the
imagery (Figure 1) as the soil characteristics, vegetation-
ns and drainage patterns are quite different on either sid-
es of the lines C-C and D-D. However, the presence of
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JGIS
these new lineaments must be examined by other techni-
ques in the future.
5. Geomorphological Analysis
The photo-geo-morphological features of the area around
the lower Son valley are highlighted in the following pa-
ragraphs. These are related to topography and drainage
5.1. Topography
The Son valley mainly consists of alluvial deposits of the
rivers Son and Ganga. Northern part of the lower Son va-
lley is composed of the finer alluvium deposits derived
from the river Ganga. It is clear that the fan shaped lower
Figure 1. Satellite imagery of the Lower Son valley showing major rivers and other surface features. Two lineaments deline-
ated by GSI (A-A and B-B) and two lineaments mapped in the present study (C-C and D-D) are also indicated.
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JGIS
Figure 2. The location map of the study area showing administrative boundaries of districts and blocks with major rivers and
major lineaments delineated by Geological Survey of India (A-A and B-B) and two lineaments mapped in the present study
(C-C and D-D). The pattern of groundwater movement in the Lower Son valley during January 1991 (by courtesy CGWB
report) is also indicated.
Son valley is practically uniform, which is sloping tow-
ards north-west, north and north-east directions. The av-
erage ground slope of this area is 0.5 m/km (1 in 2000)
such that all the tributaries of Ganga flow towards north
in the central region. In the eastern part of the lower Son
valley, the rivers Son and Punpun flow almost parallel
which was mainly ravaged by the river Son and hence
this portion has many depressions.
5.2. Drainage Analysis
Drainage pattern is the special arrangement of streams,
which reflects the characteristic features of the terrain wi-
th a geometric regularity and helps in understanding the
fluvial system of the area. The following features were
inferred from the drainage density map (Figure 3).
1) In Ballia district, there is rapid fall of the drainage
density about a line in a manner that on one side of this
line, the drainage pattern is dendritic with medium text-
ure (Figure 3), while on the other side, (i.e., in the north-
ern side of the river Ganga), the drainage density is poorly
developed that reflects the existence of lineaments
(24.75° N and 84° E). The drainage pattern in this region
is medium textured, which implies that the soil contains
mixture of materials of low permeability [12,13].
2) Rapid fall of drainage density was also observed be-
tween Nokha and Sasaram which shows variation in per-
meability between these two regions. The drainage pat-
tern is medium textured reflecting that the soil contains
mixture of fine and coarse materials.
3) A medium textured drainage pattern is observed in
Jagdishpur block; whereas medium textured dendritic to
subdendritic drainage patterns were observed in Piro, Bi-
hata and Danapur blocks. These patterns indicate a mod-
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JGIS
erate surface runoff because of the presence of an imper-
vious lower stratum of soil having moderate permeabil-
4) A fine textured rectangular drainage pattern is obse-
rved over soil having low permeability at Nawanagar
block, which is formed by joining of tributaries with the
main stream at right angles. It indicates the higher prob-
ability of occurrence of slate, schist, gneiss and sand-
stone with high level of surface runoff.
5) In Aurangabad district, fine dendritic drainage pat-
tern was basically observed, which indicates homogene-
ous and uniform soil with landforms of soft sedimentary
6) At Dinara, a coarse textured drainage pattern was
mainly observed. This pattern is an indicator of a first or-
der stream [14]. The hydrological parameters, such as pe-
rmeability, transmissivity and Darcy velocity are all very
7) A rapid decrease of drainage density was observed
between Naubatpur and Bikram blocks. In Charpokhri bl-
ock, fine to coarse textured drainage pattern was obser-
ved, which indicates the variation in permeability of soil
and surface runoff from place to place.
8) In Patna, a fine textured drainage pattern was obse-
rved, which indicates the high level of surface runoff and
the soil with low permeability.
6. Groundwater Investigation
6.1. Landuse Pattern and Agriculture
The satellite imagery indicates that part of the Bhojpur
district and more than 60% of the area of Rohtas district
are croplands including some barren lands and gullied re-
gions. It is investigated that more than 70% of the land in
the lower Son valley is under paddy cultivation during
monsoon period whereas the intensity of Rabi crop is li-
mited to 50% only. The principal crops grown in the Bh-
ojpur district are autumn paddy, winter paddy, summer
paddy, wheat and autumn maize, summer maize, gram,
sugarcane, potato, fruits and vegetables. The dry land of
Baraha, Semri, Barahampur, Sahpur and Koelwar blocks
is generally flooded every year and is called single cro-
pped area where only Rabi crops are grown. The main
Rabi crops in these areas are wheat and gram [11,12,15,16].
6.2. Use of Indicators for Groundwater
Investigation on Remote-Sensing
Data Products
The various surface features observed on remote sensing
data products are grouped into two categories:
1) First order or direct indicators, e.g., the features as-
sociated with recharge zones (rivers, canals, lakes, pon-
ds), and discharge zones (effluent seepages, springs), soil
moisture, anomalous vegetation.
2) Second order or indirect indicators, e.g., the topog-
raphic features and the general surface gradients, types of
rocks (soft and hard rocks), regional structural features
such as lineaments, types of soil, drainage density and
fracture systems in hard rock areas [17].
6.3. Interpretation of the Satellite Imagery
The visual interpretation based on satellite imagery [8]
regarding the groundwater condition of the area under in-
vestigation is summarized below:In the Bhojpur district,
25 tributaries are located. The Arrah and Buxar canals
are running through the Bhojpur district and feeding the
regime with imported water (Figure 2). The large num-
ber of recharge zones such as ponds and palaeo-channels
are located (Toposheet 72 C & 72 D). These features
indicate that the surface water condition is good and it is
further verified from the well data, which shows that the
depth to the water is in the range of 3 to 4 m below
ground surface. In this district, anomalous vegetation is
located in the Jagdishpur block. The above features re-
veal that the groundwater potential as well as surface
water conditions are very good in the Bhojpur district.
A deep forest belt is located in the Sasaram block wh-
ich lies on sandstone plateau of the Kaimur range with
good porosity and permeability. The well data indicates
that there is good prospect of groundwater in Sasaram.
The Buxar block is situated very close to south of the
river Ganga. The surface water bodies are the major sou-
rce for recharge of groundwater in this block, with scanty
vegetation. A large number of drainage pattern (Figure 3)
indicates that porosity of the soil is good with low per-
meability and the well data gives depth to the water table
as 4 m. It can be inferred that as yield is poor in this blo-
ck the groundwater prospect is not good. It is seen on the
imagery that the Patna canal is running from Aurangabad
to Patna through Jahanabad which is again feeding the
subsurface water as well (Figures 2). Therefore, the gro-
undwater condition should be quite good for the Bhojpur
The satellite imagery indicates that there are a few tri-
butaries in the Rohtas district [14] with the total recharge
area being less than that of the Bhojpur district. The im-
agery indicates that the regions of Ganga and Ghagra are
very less vegetated while Ballia and Chapra are almost
barren. Ground truth suggests that the region comes un-
der the heavy influence of flood during monsoon period.
Some water bodies can be seen on the imagery which
may be due to heavy rainfall. Also very fine-textured
drainage pattern is observed which indicates low perme-
ability and high level of surface runoff. The groundwater
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JGIS
Figure 3. Drainage pattern of the study area as interpreted from the Survey of India toposheets (72 C & 72 D) on 1: 250000
condition in both Ballia and Chapra is inferred to be poor.
The surface water condition of the Rohtas district is not
very good due to poor coverage of vegetation and the pr-
esence of a large number of drainage patterns over the
hard rock areas. The Arrah block is situated near the
river Ganga and many rivulets and tributaries are located.
Large number of drainage patterns including linear pat-
tern are observed. The well data confirms that the depth
to water is about 3 m below the ground surface (Figure
4). Therefore, it is inferred that the groundwater condi-
tion of Arrah and its adjoining area is very good. It is qu-
ite distinct on the imagery that the Patna district is enclo-
sed by the rivers Ganga and Son. The area is having ve-
getations of cultivated land, many tributaries, rivulets and
canals which could be identified on the imagery (Figure
1). The large number of drainage is observed (Figure 3)
in which the general ground level is 250 m above mean
sea level. The water table depth is in the range of 4 to 7
m. These facts indicate that there is a very good hydro-
geological condition prevailing in the region.
It is apparent from the imagery (Figure 1) that the Ja-
hanabad district is highly vegetated through which the
Patna canal is running (Figure 2). A large number of tri-
butaries and rivulets are observed. The Punpun River is
flowing through this district. The presence of dendritic
drainage pattern indicates poor permeability of the soil
having large surface runoff. The well data gives the de-
pth to water as 5 to 9 m. Therefore, it may be inferred
that the groundwater condition in the Jahanabad district
is moderate to good. Aurangabad is in the south of the
Jahanabad which is highly vegetated with deep forest
belts at places. The topographic elevations mostly range
from 250 to 1000 m in this district with many rivulets but
fewer tributaries (Figure 3). The dendritic drainage pat-
tern is found to be very common with fine to medium
textures (Figure 3), which indicates that the permeability
of the soil to be highly variable. The well data confirms
that the water table depth is in the range of 3 to 9 m
(Figure 4). These hydrological parameters indicate that
there is frequent occurrence of groundwater in Auran-
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JGIS
gabad and the yield is high.
6.4. Qualitative Analysis of Darcy Velocity of the
Lower Son Valley
The data for groundwater levels during January 1991,
when the imagery was taken are presented in the Table 1,
and the corresponding map of the groundwater level con-
tours is given in Figure 2. Figure 4 shows the histog-
rams for block wise depths of the water table of the
Lower Son valley.
The average depth of water table in Sasaram, Dinara
and Nokha is 3 m; whereas that in Nasiriganj, Pawath,
Dumraon, Nawanagar, Behea and Udwantnagar is 7 m.
From the study of Darcy velocity, which is expressed as:
V = (K/a)* (dh/dl); where V is the Darcy velocity, K,
the hydraulic conductivity, dh, the fall in head, dl, the
flow path length and a, the effective porosity, it is found
that the fall in head takes place from west to east (Figure
2). It is clear from the drainage map that the permeability
(or hydraulic conductivity) across the boundary between
the Rohtas and Bhojpur district is very large and the fall
in head across this boundary is quite appreciable. So the
Darcy equation provides, qualitatively, the velocity as
very high and the movement of groundwater takes place
from the Rohtas district to the Bhojpur district. Furtherm-
ore, the fall in head takes place from Jagdispur to Behea,
Barhampur, Nawanagar, Piro, Charpokhri and Udwan-
tnagar, which indicates that the groundwater movement
is from north of Bhojpur district to south-east (Figure 2)
with the areas like Behea, Nawanagar, Dawath, Bikram-
ganj and Nasiriganj having high water saturation zones.
In Patna district, the fall in head takes place from south
to north, i.e., from Bikram to Maner. Since the drainage
analysis of this region indicates that the permeability is
poor with low Darcy velocity in comparison to that acro-
ss the Rohtas-Bhojpur boundary. In Aurangabad district,
the fall in head takes place from Daudnagar to Barun. As
the permeability of the soil in this district is variable, the
Darcy velocity also varies from Daudnagar to Barun.
Figure 4. Histograms showing the block wise depths of the
water table of the Lower Son valley.
Table 1. Block wise water table depths of Lower Son Valley.
Block Depth to Water
Table (m) Block Depth to Water
Table (m) Block Depth to Water
Table (m) Block Depth to Water
Table (m)
Piro 3.69 Chadwa 3.92 Bikramganj 4.41 Charpokhri 8.67
Neazipur 8.68 Fulharia 5.06 Nokha 3.34 Manar 7.02
Rajpur 3.42 Chausa 3.36 Daudnagar 2.38 Bihta 5.66
Dumraon 7.67 Barhani 3.85 Barun 9.29 Dinapur 5.79
Buxer 4.36 Jahanabad 4.98 Obra 3.91 Patna 5.09
Milky 3.74 Sasaram 2.84 Sahar 4.64 Naubatpur 4.88
Udwantnagar 3.65 Dinara 2.92 Tarari 8.71 Bikram 5.12
Bihiya 7.77 Nasiriganj 7.12 Arrah 5.02 Paliganj 4.12
Barhampur 3.24 Simiri 3.85 Jagdishpur 2.48
th to the water
0 2 4 6 8 10
Name of Blocks
Paliga nj
Nauba tpur
Dinapu r
Jagd ishp u r
Ar rah
Tara ri
Daudna ga r
Nokh a
Nasiri ganj
Dina ra
Jahana ba d
Ful haria
Neazip u r
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7. Conclusions
Advantages of remote sensing technique and its ability to
give multi-spectral, multi-spatial, multi-temporal data he-
lp a great deal in accelerating and expanding its bounda-
ries for the application in the water resources field. The
greatest advantage of using remote sensing data for hyd-
rological investigation and monitoring is the ability to ge-
nerate information on spatial and temporal domain which
is crucial for successful analysis, prediction and valida-
tion. The attempt to study the satellite imagery IRS-LISS-
1-B1 (index no. 62PO22-R50) helped in locating the ex-
isting two parallel lineaments trending north-east in the
Bhojpur district. Two new lineaments were identified in
the Ballia district. The analyses of drainage, vegetation
and geomorphology supported by groundwater indicators
helped to infer that the water potentiality of the entire Son
valley is high which corroborate well with the monitor-
ing results of groundwater by [15]. The analysis of Darcy
velocity has provided the direction and the nature of mo-
vement of ground water which may help to put wells at
desired location. Among all the districts of the Lower Son
valley, the Bhojpur district is having the highest water
bearing potentiality.
8. Acknowledgements
We express our indebtness to Prof. V. P. Singh of the
Department of Geophysics, and Prof. K. N. P. Raju of
Department of Geography, Banaras Hindu University,
Varanasi for extending facilities in their respective de-
partments. One of the Authors (D. Shanker) is thankful
to Prof & Head Department of Earthquake Engineering,
IIT Roorkee for providing excellent internet facilities and
necessary assistance.
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