Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 8, pp 7442–7452 | Cite as

Spatiotemporal variability of heavy metals and identification of potential source tracers in the surface water of the Lhasa River basin

  • Guozhu Mao
  • Yushun Zhao
  • Fengrong Zhang
  • Jiaju Liu
  • Xiang HuangEmail author
Review Article


The Lhasa River basin is the economic and population center of Tibet and has abundant resources. Due to its harsh weather condition, high elevation, and inconvenient accessibility, few studies have focused on heavy metal distributions in this region. In the present study, to investigate the dissolved trace metal pollution and its controlling factors, 57 water samples from the Lhasa River and its tributaries were collected during three water flow regimes in 2016. The data on the dissolved fraction revealed that the Lhasa River basin appeared to have no to low pollution levels. However, the Lhasa River water showed alkaline characteristics which may affect the presence of heavy metal elements in a dissolved fraction. The concentration of heavy metal elements in colloidal or particulate matter therefore needs attention. Multivariate analyses were performed to determine the significant relationship between the data and to identify controlling factors for dissolved heavy metals in the study area. The results suggested that Mn, Cd, Cu, and Zn originated from a natural geological background, whereas Pb originated from mining drainage and As was influenced by geothermal flows. The concentration of dissolved heavy metals in the Meldromarchu tributary was greatly affected by the mining drainage water, while that in the Tölungchu tributary was greatly influenced by the geothermal water sources. This paper provides the first comprehensive analysis of dissolved heavy metal pollution characteristics and the controlling factors of pollution during the three different water flow regimes of the Lhasa River basin.


Heavy metals Pollution assessment Multivariate analysis Source apportionment Lhasa River 


Funding information

This research was supported by the Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51641407 and No. 21667027) and the Science and Technology Basic Work of Science and Technology (Grant No. 2015FY111000).

Supplementary material

11356_2019_4188_MOESM1_ESM.docx (293 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 292 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guozhu Mao
    • 1
  • Yushun Zhao
    • 1
  • Fengrong Zhang
    • 1
  • Jiaju Liu
    • 2
  • Xiang Huang
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Tianjin Key Laboratory of Indoor Air Environmental Quality Control, School of Environmental Science and EngineeringTianjin UniversityTianjinChina
  2. 2.College of Environmental Sciences and EngineeringPeking UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.Department of Chemistry and Environmental SciencesTibet UniversityLhasaChina

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