Hydrochemical characteristics and possible controls in the groundwater of the Yarlung Zangbo River Valley, China

  • Jiutan Liu
  • Zongjun GaoEmail author
  • Min Wang
  • Yingzhi Li
  • Mengjie Shi
  • Hongying Zhang
  • Yuanyuan Ma
Original Article


The Yarlung Zangbo River Valley is situated in the Qinghai Tibet Plateau with high elevation, abundant water resources and less influence from human activities. In this study, 47 groundwater samples were collected to investigate the hydrochemical characteristics and possible control of these characteristics in the groundwater of the Yarlung Zangbo River Valley; the samples were statistically analyzed using a Durov diagram, Gibbs plot, ratio graphs of ions, and factor analysis. The study results showed that the mean concentrations of the major ions in groundwater were relatively low, and the predominance of cations and anions in the groundwater was Ca2+ > Mg2+ > Na+ > K+ and HCO3 > SO42− > Cl, respectively. Most groundwater samples fall in the category of HCO3–Ca and mixed HCO3·SO4–Ca·Mg. Upstream to downstream, the total dissolved solids and major cations and anions in the groundwater show a gradual decreasing trend due to the dilution effect of precipitation and lateral runoff recharge, except for the K+. The water–rock interaction was the primary mechanism controlling the groundwater chemistry in the study area. The dissolution of carbonates was the major contributor to the formation of the groundwater chemistry, and the dissolution of silicate and sulfate also contributed to the chemical composition of the groundwater in the study area, whereas the cation exchange was weak. In addition, H2SO4 participation in the dissolution and weathering of carbonate was an important source of SO42−.


Groundwater Hydrochemical characteristics Hydrochemical processes Yarlung Zangbo River Valley 



This research was supported by the Center for Hydrogeology and Environmental Geology Survey, CGS (112120114059601, DD20160298).


  1. Aghazadeh N, Mogaddam AA (2011) Investigation of hydrochemical characteristics of groundwater in the Harzandat aquifer, Northwest of Iran. Environ Monit Assess 176:183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bai HZ, Ma ZF, Dong WJ, Li DL, Fang F, Liu DX, Bai HZ, Ma ZF, Dong WJ, Li DL (2006) Climatic properties and sandstorm causes in Tibet Plateau. J Desert Res 2:249–253Google Scholar
  3. Bai JK, Li CL, Kang SC, Chen PF, Wang JL (2014) Chemical speciation and risk assessment of heavy metals in the middle part of Yarlung Zangbo surface sediments. Environ Sci 35:3346–3351Google Scholar
  4. Campo MAMD, Esteller MV, Expósito JL, Hirata R (2014) Impacts of urbanization on groundwater hydrodynamics and hydrochemistry of the Toluca Valley aquifer (Mexico). Environ Monit Assess 186:2979–2999CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chesnaux R (2015) Scenarios of groundwater chemical evolution in a region of the Canadian Shield based on multivariate statistical analysis. J Hydrol Reg Stud 4:246–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Du SS, Wu YQ, Tan LH, Huang WM, Hao CZ (2018) Geochemical characteristics of fine and coarse fractions of sediments in the Yarlung Zangbo River Basin (southern Tibet, China). Environ Earth Sci 77:337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Durov S (1948) Classification of natural waters and graphic presentation of their composition. Dokl Akad Nauk SSSR 1:87–90Google Scholar
  8. Gaillardet J, Dupré B, Louvat P, Allègre CJ (1999) Global silicate weathering and CO2 consumption rates deduced from the chemistry of large rivers. Chem Geol 159:3–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gao ZY, Wang XD, Yin G (2007) Hydrological rule and isotopic composition of water bodies in Yarlung Zangbo River. Acta Geogr Sin 62:1002–1007Google Scholar
  10. Gibbs RJ (1970) Mechanisms controlling world water chemistry. Science 172:870–872Google Scholar
  11. He JY, Zhang D, Zhao ZQ (2017) Spatial and temporal variations in hydrochemical composition of river water in Yellow River Basin, China. Chin J Ecol 36(05):1390–1401Google Scholar
  12. Huang X, Wang ZG, Sang YF, Yang MY, Liu XC, Gong TL (2016) Precision of data in three precipitation datasets of the Yarlung Zangbo River Basin. Prog Geogr 35(03):339–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Jiang LG, Yao ZJ, Wang R, Liu ZF, Wang L, Wu SS (2015) Hydrochemistry of the middle and upper reaches of the Yarlung Tsangpo River system: weathering processes and CO2 consumption. Environ Earth Sci 74:2369–2379CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Li ZL, Xu ZX, Gong TL (2008) Characteristics of runoff variation in the Yarlung Zangbo River basin. Geogr Res 27:353–361Google Scholar
  15. Li PY, Wu JH, Qian H (2016) Hydrochemical appraisal of groundwater quality for drinking and irrigation purposes and the major influencing factors: a case study in and around Hua County, China. Arab J Geosci 9:1–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Li P, Tian R, Xue C, Wu J (2017) Progress, opportunities, and key fields for groundwater quality research under the impacts of human activities in China with a special focus on western China. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int 24:13224–13234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Li XY, Wu H, Qian H, Gao YY (2018) Groundwater chemistry regulated by hydrochemical processes and geological structures: a case study in Tongchuan. China Water 10:338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Liu TC (1999) Hydrological characteristics of Yalungzangbo River. Acta Geogr Sin S1:157–164Google Scholar
  19. Liu ZF, Tian LD, Yao TD, Gong TL, Yin CL, Yu WS (2007) Variations of δ(18)O in Precipitation of the Yarlung Zangbo River Basin. Acta Geogr Sin 17:317–326Google Scholar
  20. Liu ZF, Tian LD, Yao TD, Gong TL, Yin CL (2008) Influence of moisture transport on stable isotope in precipitation in Yarlungzangbo River basin. Earth Sci 2:49–57Google Scholar
  21. Mondal NC, Singh VP, Singh VS, Saxena VK (2010) Determining the interaction between groundwater and saline water through groundwater major ions chemistry. J Hydrol 388:100–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Moya CE, Raiber M, Taulis M, Cox ME (2015) Hydrochemical evolution and groundwater flow processes in the Galilee and Eromanga basins, Great Artesian Basin, Australia: a multivariate statistical approach. Sci Total Environ 508:411–426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Nematollahi MJ, Ebrahimi P, Razmara M, Ghasemi A (2016) Hydrogeochemical investigations and groundwater quality assessment of Torbat-Zaveh plain, Khorasan Razavi, Iran. Environ Monit Assess 188:2CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Rajabpour H, Vaezihir A, Sedghi MH (2016) The North Tabriz Fault, a barrier to groundwater flow in an alluvial aquifer northwest of Tabriz, Iran. Environ Earth Sci 75:1–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Vasanthavigar M, Srinivasamoorthy K, Prasanna MV (2012) Evaluation of groundwater suitability for domestic, irrigational, and industrial purposes: a case study from Thirumanimuttar river basin, Tamilnadu, India. Environ Monit Assess 184:405–420CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Vikas C, Kushwaha R, Ahmad W, Prasannakumar V, Dhanya PV, Reghunath R (2014) Hydrochemical appraisal and geochemical evolution of groundwater with special reference to nitrate contamination in aquifers of a Semi-Arid Terrain of NW India. Water Qual Expo Health 7:1–15Google Scholar
  27. Wu H, Qian H (2017) Innovative trend analysis of annual and seasonal rainfall and extreme values in Shaanxi, China, since the 1950s. Int J Climatol 37Google Scholar
  28. Wu H, Chen J, Qian H, Zhang X (2015) Chemical characteristics and quality assessment of groundwater of exploited aquifers in Beijiao water source of Yinchuan, China: a case study for drinking, irrigation, and industrial purposes. J Chem 2015:1–4Google Scholar
  29. Xiao J, Jin ZD, Wang J, Zhang F (2015) Hydrochemical characteristics, controlling factors and solute sources of groundwater within the Tarim River Basin in the extreme arid region, NW Tibetan Plateau. Quat Int 380–381:237–246CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Xing LN, Guo HM, Zhan YH (2013) Groundwater hydrochemical characteristics and processes along flow paths in the North China Plain. J Asian Earth Sci 70–71:250–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Yang ZG, Zhuoma M, Lu HY, Ciugene D, Ma PF, Zhou KS (2014) Characteristics of precipitation variation and its effects on runoff in the Yarlung Zangbo River basin during 1961–2010. J Glaciol Geocryol 36:166–172Google Scholar
  32. Yang Q, Li Z, Ma H, Wang L, Martín JD (2016) Identification of the hydrogeochemical processes and assessment of groundwater quality using classic integrated geochemical methods in the southeastern part of Ordos basin, China. Environ Pollut 218:879–888CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Yao ZJ, Liu J, Huang HQ, Song XF, Dong XH, Liu X (2009) Characteristics of isotope in precipitation, river water and lake water in the Manasarovar basin of Qinghai–Tibet Plateau. Environ Geol 57:551–556CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. You QL, Kang SC, Yan YP, Xu YW, Zhang YJ, Huang J (2009) Trends in daily temperature and precipitation extremes over the Yarlung Zangbo River Basin during 1961–2005. Acta Geogr Sin 64:44–45Google Scholar
  35. Yu ZS, Tang SY, Nima YD (2015) Variation characteristics of climatic growing season in the middle course of Yarlung Zangbo River during 1971–2010. Plat Meteorol 34(02):338–346Google Scholar
  36. Zeng YY, Zhou JL, Jia RL, Wang ST, Du JY (2017) Hydrochemical characteristics and causes of surface water in Qimantage area, Xinjiang. J Arid Land Resour Environ 31(06):64–70Google Scholar
  37. Zhang DD, Peart M, Jim CY, He YQ, Li BS, Chen JA (2003) Precipitation chemistry of Lhasa and other remote towns, Tibet. Atmos Environ 37:231–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Zhang B, Song XF, Zhang Y, Han D, Tang C, Yu Y, Ma Y (2012) Hydrochemical characteristics and water quality assessment of surface water and groundwater in Songnen plain, Northeast China. Water Res 46:2737–2748CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Zhang T, Cai WT, Li YZ, Zhang ZY, Geng TT, Bian C. Zhao M, Cai YM (2017) Major ionic features and their possible controls in the water of the Niyang River Basin. Environ Sci 38(11):4537–4545Google Scholar
  40. Zhao XY (2010) Impacts of human activity on environment in the high-cold pasturing area: a case of Gannan pasturing area. Acta Ecol Sin 30:141–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Zheng QL, Ma T, Wang YY, Yan YN, Liu L, Liu L (2017) Hydrochemical characteristics and quality assessment of shallow groundwater in Xincai River Basin, Northern China. Procedia Earth Planet Sci 17:368–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jiutan Liu
    • 1
  • Zongjun Gao
    • 1
    Email author
  • Min Wang
    • 1
  • Yingzhi Li
    • 2
  • Mengjie Shi
    • 1
  • Hongying Zhang
    • 1
  • Yuanyuan Ma
    • 1
  1. 1.College of Earth Science and EngineeringShandong University of Science and TechnologyQingdaoChina
  2. 2.Center for Hydrogeology and Environmental Geology Survey, China Geological SurveyBaodingChina

Personalised recommendations