The presence of arsenic in groundwater constitutes a hazard for the environment and human health, and the determination of its source has become a global challenge, which can be approached by defining the natural background levels (NBL) in conjunction with the indicator kriging method, with the aim of delineating anthropogenically contaminated areas. However, having a unique value of NBL for large areas can generate interpretation errors. This research integrates the determination of the flow systems present in the Calera Aquifer, and the definition of the natural background levels in each flow system by making estimation maps in ArcGIS using two databases, 10 years apart, to evaluate the spatio-temporal variation of arsenic in groundwater. The results indicate a notable increase in the probability of exceeding the arsenic NBL, mainly in the intermediate flow, which may be due to movement resulting from mining activities as well as a mixture of regional and intermediate flows caused by the extraction of water for agriculture and drinking water supplies. The presented values exceed the maximum limits allowed for human consumption, as stated by the World Health Organization.
Keywords: arsenic; flow systems; groundwater; indicator kriging; natural background levels.