Assessment, formation mechanism, and different source contributions of dissolved salt pollution in the shallow groundwater of Hutuo River alluvial-pluvial fan in the North China Plain

  • Xiaowen Zhang
  • Jiangtao HeEmail author
  • Baonan He
  • Jichao Sun
Research Article


With rapid urbanization and industrialization processes, the problem of groundwater pollution under the influence of various human activities has become increasingly severe in most developed areas of China. However, the problem of dissolved salt pollution caused by increasing concentrations of conventional ions is often overlooked and easier to be seen as a high background of natural formation rather than pollution. The Hutuo River alluvial fan in North China was selected as the study area; dissolved salt pollution is evaluated based on the factor analysis method (FA); groundwater exploitation, pollutant input, and the attenuation of the vadose zone were discussed to explain the salt pollution; the formation mechanism and different source contributions were also explored. The results show that the total hardness (TH) and nitrate are the main contributing indicators of salt pollution in the Hutuo River alluvial fan. The long-term overexploitation of groundwater promoted the leaching and nitrification reactions, resulting in a large area of moderate to strong salt pollution in the top unit of the alluvial fan, which accounted for 51.6% of the salt pollution according to the multivariate regression model. In addition, the input pollution generated by various types of pollution sources along with rainfall infiltration is also an important driving factor. The surface pollution load and hydrogeological conditions affected the cation exchange and leaching, resulting in a point distribution of strong salt pollution, with a contribution rate of 37.6%. The analysis of the factors that affect salt pollution and the specific contributions in different regions cannot only help decision-makers understand the causes of water quality deterioration but also propose solutions in a targeted manner.


Dissolved salt pollution Groundwater overexploitation Human activities Attenuation in aeration zone Hutuo River alluvial-pluvial fan 


Funding information

This study was financially supported by the Project of China Geological Survey (DD20160309).

Supplementary material

11356_2019_6502_MOESM1_ESM.docx (47 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 47 kb)


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaowen Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jiangtao He
    • 1
    Email author
  • Baonan He
    • 1
  • Jichao Sun
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Water Resource and EnvironmentChina University of Geosciences (Beijing)BeijingChina
  2. 2.Sichuan Institute of Geological Engineering InvestigationChengduChina
  3. 3.Institute of Hydrogeology and Environmental GeologyChinese Academy of Geological SciencesShijiazhuangChina

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