Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 186, Issue 2, pp 1219–1234 | Cite as

Spatial distribution and risk assessment of heavy metals in sediments from a hypertrophic plateau lake Dianchi, China

  • Zhang Yuan
  • Shi Taoran
  • Zhang Yan
  • Yu Tao


The sediment in Dianchi Lake, a hypereutrophic plateau lake in southwest China, was investigated and the concentration of heavy metals (Cu, Cr, Ni, Zn, Pb, Fe, Mn, and Cd) in the sediment and sediment properties were determined. Their spatial distribution and sources were analyzed using multivariate statistics. The result indicated that the studied metals exhibited three distinct spatial patterns; that is, Cu, Pb, Zn, and Ni had a similar distribution, with a concentration gradient from the north to the south part of the lake; Cd and Cr presented a similar distribution; Fe and Mn presented a quite different distribution than other metals, which indicated their different sources and geochemistry processes. Correlation and cluster analysis (CA) provided origin information on these metals and the CA result was observed corresponding to those three spatial patterns. Principal component analysis further displayed metal source and driving factors; that is, Cu, Pb, Zn, Ni, Cd, and Cr were mainly derived from anthropogenic sources, and Fe and Mn were mainly the result of natural processes. Sediment assessment was conducted using geoaccumulation index (Igeo), potential ecological risk indices, and USEPA guidelines. The result indicated that, generally, Cd was the most serious risk metal; Pb and Cu posed moderate potential ecological risk; Cr, Zn, and Ni had slight ecological risk; Fe and Mn had little risk. Comparison of the assessment tools showed that each of the methods had its limitation and could bias the result, and the combined use of the methodologies and local knowledge on lithology or metal background value of soil in the practice would give a more comprehensive understanding of the metal risk or pollution. Statistical analysis also indicated that nutrients had different impacts on Fe, Mn, and trace elements, which implied that in the assessment of metal risk, nutrients impact should be taken into consideration especially for eutrophic waters.


Spatial distribution Heavy metals Risk assessment Eutrophication Sediments Dianchi Lake 



This work was financially supported by China’s National Basic Research program (“973” program): “Water environmental quality evolution and water quality criteria in lakes” (2008CB418201) and the National Natural Science Fund “Mechanism and impact of urban nonpoint source pollution from the riverine city on the water quality of urban rivers and control” (51278475). We are grateful to the editor and two anonymous reviewers for their careful work and insightful comments to improve our manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Environment Criteria and Risk AssessmentChinese Research Academy of Environmental SciencesBeijingChina

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