Geographical variations of trace elements in sediments of the major rivers in eastern China
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A total of 26 geographically and hydrologically diverse sediment samples were collected from 12 major rivers in eastern China. The <63-μm fraction of the sediments was analysed for both total concentrations of Cu, Zn, Pb and Cd, and their associations with various geochemical phases. The geographical variations of sediment-bound trace metals can be related to the bedrock types and weathering processes in the corresponding river basins. The rivers in southern China had notably higher concentrations of trace metals in sediments because of abundant non-ferrous mineral deposits and stronger weathering process in the region. A large proportion of trace metals in these sediments was associated with iron and manganese oxides and organic matter. Relative low levels of trace metals were found in river sediments in northern China, and a significant proportion of the metals was bound to organic matter, carbonates, and the residual fraction. The sediments in the Yellow River, originating from special loess, had the lowest concentrations of trace metals. Most of the trace metals were associated with the carbonates and residual phases.
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