With the growing dependence on groundwater, escalating demand, and increasing depletion of aquifers, the Government of India has accorded special emphasis to management of groundwater resources through precise aquifer mapping. We have carried out hydrogeophysical surveys, including airborne electromagnetic (AEM), in six hydrogeologically divergent areas comprising sedimentary basins, basalts, weathered and fractured granite gneisses and schists, desert, and costal alluvium with the objective to establish suitability of AEM for a countrywide aquifer mapping in India. Efficacy of the dual-moment AEM surveys in mapping the shallow and deep aquifers is evaluated in conjunction with geologic, geophysical, and borehole data. It is found that the AEM surveys provide reliable images of the subsurface resistivity distribution defining the 3D geometrical and electrical attributes of aquifers in different areas. The surveys helped identify the suitable zones for managed artificial recharge (MAR), subsurface structures controlling the groundwater conditions, regional continuity of principal aquifers, palaeoriver channels, variations in lithologic character of aquifers, and the quality of water in terms of salinity, etc. In this paper, we present the efficacy of the aquifer-mapping approach illustrated by an example from an alluvium-covered hard-rock terrain (Dausa, Rajasthan), where a weathered-fractured aquifer system with compartmentalization under alluvium cover is mapped. The integrated data set, comprising AEM, aeromagnetic, ground geophysical, and borehole measurements, was utilized to derive lithologic and hydrogeologic maps useful in developing an aquifer-based groundwater-management plan.

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