Yulong Guo1, Chao Li1, Chenyu Wang1,2, Juan Xu1, Chenyang Jin1, and Shouye Yang1
1 State Key Laboratory of Marine Geology, Tongji University, Shanghai, China.
2 Earth Surface Geochemistry, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany.
The Huanghe once had a sediment flux of >1,000 Mt/yr, but this has decreased by ∼90% as its river sediment routing systems have undergone dramatic changes influenced by human activities such as dam construction. However, the way in which the sediment geochemistry of the river has responded to the altered sediment routing processes is not well known. This study investigates the sediment source-to-sink routing regime of the Huanghe River using Nd isotope fingerprinting. Four major source terranes,namely the Songpan-Ganzi (SG) Block, Ordos Desert (OD), Chinese Loess Plateau (CLP) and North China Craton (NCC) are recognized according to their distinct Nd isotopes. The gradual downstream decrease in εNd values in sediments of the upper Huanghe indicates a decreasing contribution of material from the SG Block and a corresponding increase contribution of local underlying basement rocks, which is inferred to be related to sediment capture by a cascade of hydroelectric dams. A gradual increase in εNd from Yinchuan to Tongguan suggests an increasing contribution from the CLP under intense erosion. Relatively low εNd in the downstream sediments suggest a contribution from proximal NCC basement, consistent with the shift from deposition to erosion in the lower channel in recent years. The marked heterogeneity in Nd isotopes in the Huanghe sediments corresponds well to sediment source-to-sink processes in response to increasing human impacts. In a setting of global rivers facing strong anthropogenic impacts, the ways in which altered sediment routing systems affect river sediment geochemistry deserve more research attention.