Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 18, pp 17620–17633 | Cite as

Sedimentary chronology reinterpreted from Changshou Lake of the Three Gorges Reservoir Area reveals natural and anthropogenic controls on sediment production

  • Raheel Anjum
  • Qiang Tang
  • Adrian L. Collins
  • Jinzhang Gao
  • Yi Long
  • Xinbao Zhang
  • Xiubin He
  • Zhonglin Shi
  • Anbang Wen
  • Jie Wei
Research Article


Sedimentary archives preserved in geomorphic sinks provide records of historical sediment dynamics and its related natural and anthropogenic controls. This study reinterpreted sedimentary processes in Changshou Lake of the Three Gorges Reservoir Area in China by combining a rainfall erosivity index with multiple tracing proxies, and the impacts of natural and anthropogenic drivers on sediment production were also explored. Erosive rainfalls with low frequency and large magnitude in the rainy season contribute to a substantial proportion of annual total rainfall, which thus can be used to infer erosion and sediment yield events. The sedimentary chronology was determined by comparing rainfall erosivity index with depth distribution of 137Cs and absolute particle size, which revealed annual sedimentation rates ranging from 1.1 to 2.3 cm a−1. The multi-proxy dating index and variation of sedimentation rate divided the sediment profile into three major periods. The reference period (1956–1982) displays low variability of TOC, TN, trace metal concentrations, and mean sedimentation rate. In the stressed period (1982–1998), industrial and sewerage discharge led to input and deposition of TOC, TN, and trace metals (e.g., Cd, Co, Cu, Cr, and Ni). The highest annual sediment accumulation rate of 2.3 cm a−1 may be ascribed to the 1982 big flood event. In the present period (1998–2013), increased TOC, TN and decreased trace metals in the top layers of the sediment core indicated changes in lake ecology. Fish farming promoted algal growth and primary productivity which caused eutrophication until 2004–2005. The reduced mean sedimentation rate of 1.7 cm a−1 between 1998 and 2004, and thereafter, may be attributed to soil and water conservation and reforestation policies implemented in the Longxi catchment. Human activities such as deforestation, cultural and industrial revolution, and lake eutrophication associated with fish farming since 1989, therefore led to appreciable limnological variations. Overall, the dated sedimentary profile from Changshou Lake displays high consistency with archived historical events and reflects the impact of both natural and anthropogenic controls on sediment production.


Human activities Sedimentary records Geochemical profile 137Cs Dating Three Gorges Reservoir Area 


Funding information

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant 41771320; 41771321; 41471234), the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS; Grant KFJ-SW-STS-175), and CAS Key Laboratory of Mountain Surface Processes and Ecological Regulation. QT is supported by a UK Royal Society Newton International Fellowship (Grant NF161415) scheme and is hosted by Rothamsted Research under the supervision of ALC. Rothamsted Research receives strategic funding from the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the contribution by ALC to this manuscript was funded by Grant BBS/E/C/000I0330 - Soil to Nutrition. We are thankful to Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan, Pakistan and Higher Education Commission of the Government of Pakistan for their support.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raheel Anjum
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Qiang Tang
    • 1
    • 4
  • Adrian L. Collins
    • 4
  • Jinzhang Gao
    • 1
  • Yi Long
    • 1
  • Xinbao Zhang
    • 1
  • Xiubin He
    • 1
  • Zhonglin Shi
    • 1
  • Anbang Wen
    • 1
  • Jie Wei
    • 5
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Mountain Surface Processes and Ecological Regulation, Institute of Mountain Hazards and EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesChengduChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Abdul Wali Khan UniversityMardanPakistan
  4. 4.Sustainable Agriculture Sciences DepartmentRothamsted ResearchOkehamptonUK
  5. 5.Geography and Tourism CollegeChongqing Normal UniversityChongqingChina

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