Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 1091–1104 | Cite as

Major ion and dissolved heavy metal geochemistry, distribution, and relationship in the overlying water of Dongting Lake, China

  • Yan Chen
  • Lingqing WangEmail author
  • Tao Liang
  • Jun Xiao
  • Jing Li
  • Haicheng Wei
  • Linlin Dong
Original Paper


Deteriorating lake water quality has become a serious environmental issue around the globe. Heavy metals dissolved in the overlying water of lakes are notably more toxic than those found in lake sediment. Given this, we sought to better understand the characteristics of particular major ion and dissolved heavy metal in Dongting Lake—the second largest freshwater lake in China. Overlying water samples were collected from Dongting Lake to investigate the major ion geochemistry and to examine the relationship between the major ions and dissolved heavy metals. Chemical analysis of the overlying water showed that the average cation concentration was the highest for Ca2+, followed by Mg2+, Na+, and K+. Similarly, the highest anion concentration was SO42−, followed by Cl, NO3, and HCO3. Total dissolved solids in the overlying water of Dongting Lake ranged from 66.19 to 159.20 mg/L, with an average value of 93.13 mg/L. The predominant hydrochemical type was Ca–SO4. The mean concentrations of dissolved heavy metal in both surface and deep waters decreased in the following order: Zn > Cr > Ni > Cu > Pb > Cd. Importantly, all of the selected heavy metals tested in the overlying water were lower than the corresponding toxicity reference values. Co-occurrence network analyses were performed and compared the correlations between all measured major ions and heavy metals. Results of the subsequent principal component analyses revealed that heavy metal levels in the aquatic environment primarily originated from natural processes and were enhanced by anthropogenic activities.


Major ion Heavy metal Geochemistry Overlying water Lake 



This study was sponsored by the Cultivation, Construction and Service Project of the Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research (IGSNRR), Chinese Academy of Sciences (TSYJS-01) and the National Key Project for Basic Research (No. 2012CB417004).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Water Environmental PlanningChinese Academy for Environmental PlanningBeijingChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesXi’anChina
  4. 4.Qinghai Provincial Key Laboratory of Geology and Environment of Salt Lakes, Qinghai Institute of Salt LakeChinese Academy of SciencesXiningChina
  5. 5.Suzhou Academy of Agricultural SciencesSuzhouChina

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