Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 551–563 | Cite as

Past atmospheric Pb deposition in Lake Qinghai, northeastern Tibetan Plateau

  • Zhangdong JinEmail author
  • Yongming Han
  • Li Chen
Original Paper


Two short sediment cores were recovered from sub-basins of Lake Qinghai, China and were analyzed for concentrations of Pb and 16 other elements to determine historic, regional atmospheric Pb deposition on the Tibetan Plateau. Core chronologies, dating back to the eighteenth century, were established using activities of 210Pb and 137Cs. The 17 elements were divided into three principal components. Variations in concentrations of PC1 elements (Al, Cr, Cu, Fe, K, Mn, Ni, and Ti) demonstrate different patterns between the two cores, and are attributed to different sediment sources in the two sub-basins. PC2 elements (Ba, Ca, Na, and Sr) may be associated with the degree of catchment weathering and/or water chemistry. Four elements (Pb, Zn, P, and Co) are related to both PC1 and PC2, and reflect a mixture of natural and anthropogenic sources. The PC3 element is Mg in the north sub-basin, and is perhaps related to aragonite precipitation and/or increased farming. Elevated Pb concentrations in uppermost sediments of both cores signify a recent regional/global increase in anthropogenic Pb release into the environment. After subtracting lithogenic Pb, derived from rock weathering and/or dust and normalized to the background immobile element Ti, results suggest that excess, anthropogenic Pb is transferred to the lake and its sediments predominantly via the atmosphere. This anthropogenic atmospheric Pb is comparable in magnitude and displays similar variation patterns in the two cores, reflecting regional atmospheric deposition and local erosion. The average anthropogenic Pb deposition rate in Lake Qinghai since the 1960s has been ~12.2 ± 3.5 mg/m2/a, comparable with atmospheric Pb fluxes reported for sites elsewhere in the northern hemisphere.


Atmospheric Pb Titanium Lake sediment Lake Qinghai Tibetan Plateau 



We especially thank Mr. Xia Weilan and Zhu Yuxin at the Nanjing Institute of Geography & Limnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, for their assistance with sample collection and laboratory analyses. This work was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant 40873082) and by the State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesXi’anChina
  2. 2.1st Oil Production Company, Jiangsu Oil FieldSINOPECYangzhouChina

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