Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 67, Issue 5, pp 1331–1344 | Cite as

Major ion geochemistry of shallow groundwater in the Qinghai Lake catchment, NE Qinghai-Tibet Plateau

  • Jun Xiao
  • Zhangdong JinEmail author
  • Fei Zhang
  • Jin Wang
Original Article


Conventional hydrochemical techniques and statistical analyses were applied to better understand the solute geochemistry and the hydrochemical process of shallow groundwater in the Qinghai Lake catchment. Shallow groundwater in the Qinghai Lake catchment is slightly alkaline, and is characterized by a high ion concentrations and low water temperature. The total dissolved solids (TDS) in most of the samples are <1,000 mg/L, i.e. fresh water and depend mainly on the concentration of SO4 2−, Cl and Na+. Groundwater table is influenced directly by the residents’ groundwater consumption. Most of the groundwaters in the Qinghai Lake catchment belong to the Ca2+(Na+) –HCO3 type, while the Qinghai Lake, part of the Buha (BHR) and the Lake Side (LS) samples belong to the Na+–Cl type. The groundwater is oversaturated with respect to aragonite, calcite and dolomite, but not to magnesite and gypsum. Solutes are mainly derived from strong evaporite dissolution in Daotang, BHR and LS samples and from strong carbonate weathering in Hargai and Shaliu samples. Carbonate weathering is stronger than evaporite dissolution with weak silicate weathering in the Qinghai Lake catchment. Carbonate weathering, ion exchange reaction and precipitation are the major hydrogeochemical processes responsible for the solutes in the groundwater in the Qinghai Lake catchment. Most of the shallow groundwaters are suitable for drinking. More attention should be paid to the potential pollution of nitrate, chloride and sulfide in shallow groundwater in the future.


Groundwater Major ion geochemistry Hydrochemical process Qinghai Lake 



This work was financially supported by National Science Foundation of China through grants 40873082 and 41003012, National Basic Research Program of China (2010CB833404) and West Light Foundation of Chinese Academy of Sciences. We especially thank Associate Professor Yuxin Zhu in Nanjing Institute of Geography & Limnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Miss Ting Zhang in Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, for their kind helps and suggestions to sample analyses and laboratory work. Thanks are extended to Mr. Yuewei Shi at the Buha River Hydrological Station for his assistance with sample collection.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary GeologyInstitute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of SciencesXi’anChina

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