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Hydrologic Indicators - Termite mounds

Termite mounds as hydrologic indicators(underwater indicators to dig wells and borewells)

Varahamihira describes the possibility of water where ant hills are present. The termites in Sanskrit literature have been described as UPAJICA. Modern scientific studies reveal interesting facts authenticating the beliefs. In order to understand the significance of termite mound, a brief description of termites and its mounds, is a prerequisite.

The termites live in 4 types of nest. One such type is the Epigeous nest ie, the nest built on the ground surface. All the termites are not mound builders and the only genus Copoterms of the family Rhinotermitidae build mounds. The epigeous nest is of importance for ground water exploration. High humidity is essential for the very survival of the species in arid and semi arid tracts. To maintain high humidity the termites have constant touch with ground water however deep it may be. The chief mechanism of the termites that contribute to humidity control is the active transport of water from the water table how deep it may be.

They prefer to live in the confined environment of their nest which is humid. The termite mound functions mainly to maintain a constant high humidity . Hence it is the only mound type of termite nest which serve as indicator of ground water.

An adult mound is connected with a very important system of under ground galleries called PERIERIA. From one of the subterranean galleries at some distance from the mound, a vertical shaft descends until it reaches the water table. In some cases the vertical shaft may occur right beneath the mound so that water occurs beneath the mound. Each
mound is an assemblage termed a calic. The termite nest is termed polycalic when a group of mound or calics are associated with a single termite colony.

The termite mounds function primarily to maintain a constant high humidity. The termites have the capacity to transport water from the water table however deep it may be. So water is very vital for the survival of the insects. The vertical shaft of the termite mounds subsurface structure is very significant since it only reaches the water table. Varahamihira’s concept that the termite mound is a hydrologic indicator to locate sources of ground water has been amply substantiated by observations made in several modern researches.

The development of the vertical shaft of the mound is hydrotropic under the influence of earth’s magnetic field.

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