Frontiers of Earth Science

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 86–94 | Cite as

The effects of sorting by aeolian processes on the geochemical characteristics of surface materials: a wind tunnel experiment

  • Xunming Wang
  • Lili Lang
  • Ting Hua
  • Caixia Zhang
  • Hui Li
Research Article


The geochemical characteristics of aeolian and surface materials in potential source areas of dust are frequently employed in environmental reconstructions as proxies of past climate and as source tracers of aeolian sediments deposited in downwind areas. However, variations in the geochemical characteristics of these aeolian deposits that result from near-surface winds are currently poorly understood. In this study, we collected surface samples from the Ala Shan Plateau (a major potential dust source area in Central Asia) to determine the influence of aeolian processes on the geochemical characteristics of aeolian transported materials. Correlation analyses show that compared with surface materials, the elements in transported materials (e.g., Cu, As, Pb, Mn, Zn, Al, Ca, Fe, Ga, K, Mg, P, Rb, Co, Cr, Na, Nb, Si, and Zr) were subjected to significant sorting by aeolian processes, and the sorting also varied among different particle size fractions and elements. Variations in wind velocity were significantly correlated with the contents of Cr, Ga, Sr, Ca, Y, Nd, Zr, Nb, Ba, and Al, and with the Zr/Al, Zr/Rb, K/Ca, Sr/Ca, Rb/Sr, and Ca/Al ratios. Given the great variation in the geochemical characteristics of materials transported under different aeolian processes relative to those of the source materials, these results indicate that considerable uncertainty may be introduced to analyses by using surface materials to trace the potential source areas of aeolian deposits that accumulate in downwind areas.


aeolian process transported material geochemistry 


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This work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (No. 2016YFA0601900), grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41225001 and 41401005), and the Foundation of the Director of the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Special thanks are given to anonymous referees and the journal editor for constructive criticism of an earlier version of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xunming Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lili Lang
    • 1
  • Ting Hua
    • 2
  • Caixia Zhang
    • 2
  • Hui Li
    • 2
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Water Cycle & Related Land Surface Processes, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Desert and Desertification, Cold & Arid Regions Environmental & Engineering Research InstituteChinese Academy of SciencesLanzhouChina

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