A Review of Studies on the Biogeochemical Behaviors of Mercury in the Three Gorges Reservoir, China

  • Yongmin Wang
  • Deliang Yin
  • Yuping Xiang
  • Qinqin Xu
  • Cheng Zhang
  • Qing Xie
  • Dingyong WangEmail author
Focused Review


The Three Gorges Reservoir (TGR) is a relatively large reservoir, and its water level management actions produce a widespread water level fluctuation zone (WLFZ), which has characteristics of both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Here, an integrated overview of current knowledge on Hg behaviors in the TGR, especially the WLFZ, as well as exposure risk to local residents was presented. Hg levels in the TGR were comparable with other natural aquatic systems. WLFZ in the TGR was confirmed to be an environment favorable for Hg methylation by enhancing microbial activity, promoting sulfur cycling and increasing the level of low-molecular-weight organic matters. However, elevated fish Hg concentrations did not follow the impoundment of TGR, indicating no obvious reservoir effect, while it is still noteworthy that frequently consuming fish is likely to be a methylmercury (MeHg) exposure pathway for specific populations e.g. fishermen around the TGR.


Three Gorges Reservoir Water level fluctuation Mercury Methylation 



This work was financed by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41603103, 41877384 and 41373113), and by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (Grant No. XDJK2017B035). We also appreciate Jiang Liu for generously providing us unpublished data to improve the reporting of this work.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Resources and EnvironmentSouthwest UniversityChongqingChina
  2. 2.Chongqing Key Laboratory of Agricultural Resources and EnvironmentChongqingChina

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