Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 101–122 | Cite as

Principal denudation processes and their contribution to fluvial suspended sediment yields in the Upper Yangtze River Basin and Volga River Basin

  • Golosov Valentin
  • Xin-bao Zhang
  • Xiu-bin HeEmail author
  • Qiang Tang
  • Ping Zhou


This paper synthesized the principal land denudation processes and their role in determining riverine suspended sediment yields (SSY) in two typical geographical environments of the Upper Yangtze River Basin in China and the Volga River Basin in Eastern Europe. In the Upper Yangtze River Basin, natural factors including topography, climate, lithology and tectonic activity are responsible for the spatial variation in the magnitude of denudation rates. Human disturbances have contributed to the temporal changes of soil erosion and fluvial SSY during the past decades. On one hand, land use change caused by deforestation and land reclamation has played an important role in the acceleration of sediment production from the central hilly area and lower Jinsha catchment; On the other hand, diverse soil conservation practices (e.g., reforestation, terracing) have contributed to a reduction of soil erosion and sediment production since the late 1980s. It was difficult to explicitly decouple the effect of mitigation measures in the Lower Jinsha River Basin due to the complexity associated with sediment redistribution within river channels (active channel migration and significant sedimentation). The whole basin can be subdivided into seven sub-regions according to the different proportional inputs of principal denudation processes to riverine SSY. In the Volga River Basin, anthropogenic sheet, rill and gully erosion are the predominant denudation processes in the southern region, while channel bank and bed erosion constitutes the main source of riverine suspended sediment flux in the northern part of the basin. Distribution of cultivated lands significantly determined the intensity of denudation processes. Local relief characteristics also considerably influence soil erosion rates and SSY in the southern Volga River Basin. Lithology, soil cover and climate conditions determined the spatial distribution of sheet, rill and gully erosion intensity, but they play a secondary role in SSY spatial variation.


Land denudation Anthropogenic disturbance Suspended sediment yield Upper Yangtze River Volga River 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Belyaev VR, Golosov VN, Kislenko KS, et al. (2008) Combining direct observations, modelling and 137Cs tracer for evaluating individual event contribution in long-term sediment budgets. Sediment Dynamics in Changing Environments (Proceedings of a symposium held in Christchurch, New Zealand, December 2008). IAHS Publ. No. 325, 114–122.Google Scholar
  2. Belyaev VR, Golosov VN, Kuznetsova JS, et al. (2009) Quantitative assessment of effectiveness of soil conservation measures using a combination of 137Cs radioactive tracer and conventional techniques. Catena 79: 214–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chalov RS, Shtankova NN (2003) Sediment yield, contribution of bedload sediment and its reflection in channel morphological patterns in rivers of the Volga River Basin. In: Problems of river channel investigations. Vol. 9. pp 195–205. Moscow University Publ., Moscow, Russia (In Russian).Google Scholar
  4. Chen J, He YP, Wei FQ (2005) Debris flow erosion and deposition in Jiangjia Gully, Yunnan, China. Environmental Geology 48: 771–777.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chen XQ (1996) An integrated study of sediment discharge from the Changjiang River, China and the delta development since the Mid-Holocene. Journal of Costal Research 12(1): 26–37.Google Scholar
  6. Cheng GW (1999) Forest change: hydrological effects in the Upper Yangtze River valley. Ambio 28: 457–459.Google Scholar
  7. Dai D, Tan Y (1996) Soil erosion and sediment yield in the Upper Yangtze River basin. Erosion and Sediment Yield: Global and Regional Perspectives (Proceedings of the Exeter Symposium, July 1996). IAHS Publ. no. 236, pp 191–203.Google Scholar
  8. Edmond JM, Palmer MR, Measures CI, et al. (1995) The fluvial geochemistry and denudation rate of the Guayana Shield in Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil. Geochimica Cosmochimca Acta 59: 3301–3325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fan J, Morris G (1992) Reservoir sedimentation II: reservoir desiltation and long-term storage capacity. Journal of Hydraulic Engineering 118(3): 370–384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gao P (2008) Understanding watershed suspended sediment transport. Progress in Physical Geography 32(3): 243–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gavrilova IP, Bogdanova MD (1998) Distribution and geochemical regime of the main soil types. Alexeevsky NA (Ed.) Small Rivers Volga Basin. Moscow State University: pp 48–63 (In Russian).Google Scholar
  12. Golosov VN (2006) Influence of different factors on the sediment yield of the Oka basin rivers (central Russia). In: Rowan JS, Duck RW, Werritty A (eds.) Sediment Dynamics and the Hydromorphology of Fluvial Systems, IAHS Publ 306, pp 28–36.Google Scholar
  13. Golosov VN, Panin AV (1988) Scree processes at gully slopes in the western Tien-Shan mountains. Geomorphologiya 3: 46–50 (In Russian).Google Scholar
  14. Golosov VN, Panin AV (2006) Century-scale stream network dynamics in the Russian Plain in response to climate and land use change. Catena 66: 74–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Harvey AM (2002) Effective timescales of coupling within fluvial systems. Geomorphology 44: 175–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. He YP, Xie H, Cui P, et al. (2003) GIS-based hazard mapping and zonation of debris flows in Xiaojiang Basin, southwestern China. Environmental Geology 45: 286–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Higgitt DL, Lu XX (2001) Sediment delivery to the three gorges: 1. Catchment controls. Geomorphology 41: 143–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Instruction on calculating hydrological characteristics for planning counter-erosion measures in the European area of the USSR. 1979. Gidrometeoizdat Publ., Leningrad, Russia. p 61. (In Russian)Google Scholar
  19. Jin Y, Wang F, Sun P (2009) Landslide hazard triggered by the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake Sichuan, China. Landslides 6: 139–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kosov BF (1970) Gully growth on USSR territory. Eroziya pochv I ruslovye process 1:23–34. (In Russian)Google Scholar
  21. Larionov GA. (1993) Water and wind erosion: the main principles and quantitative estimates. Izd-vo Mosk. Univerisity, Moscow. p 236. (In Russian)Google Scholar
  22. Li S, Lobb DA, Lindstrom MJ, et al. (2007) Tillage and water erosion on different landscapes in the northern North American Great Plains evaluated using 137Cs technique and soil erosion models. Catena 70: 493–505.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lin C, Tu S, Huang J, et al. (2009) The effect of plant hedgerows on the spatial distribution of soil erosion and soil fertility on sloping farmland in the purple-soil area of China. Soil and Tillage Research 105: 307–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Litvin LF (2002) Geography of soil erosion on agricultural lands of Russia. IKC Akademkniga, Moscow, p.255.Google Scholar
  25. Litvin LF, Zorina EF, Sidorchuk AY, et al. (2003) Erosion and sedimentation on the Russian Plain. Part 1: contemporary processes. Hydrological Processes 17: 3335–3346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mabit L, Benmansour M, Walling DE (2008) Comparative advantages and limitations of fallout radionuclides (137Cs, 210Pb and 7Be) to assess soil erosion and sedimentation. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 99: 1799–1807.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Medvedev IF, Shabaev AI (1991) Erosion processes on arable lands of Privolzhskaya upland. Pochvovedenie 11: 61–69. (In Russian)Google Scholar
  28. Palmieri A, Shan F, Dinar A (2001) Economics of reservoir sedimentation and sustainable management of dams. Journal of Environmental Management 61: 149–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Peng T, Wang SJ (2012) Effects of land use, land cover and rainfall regimes on the surface runoff and soil loss on karst slopes in southwest China. Catena 90: 53–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Petelko AI, Golosov VN, Belyaev VR (2007) Experience of design of system of counter-erosion measures. Proceedings of the tenth international symposium on river sedimentation. Vol. 1. Moskow. pp 141–149.Google Scholar
  31. Porto P, Walling DE, Callegari G (2011) Using 137Cs measurements to establish catchment sediment budgets and explore scale effects. Hydrological Processes 25: 886–900.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Qi YQ, Zhang XB, He XB (2006) A study on soil erosion induced sediment yield by reservoir and pond deposits dating with 137Cs in small catchments of the hilly Sichuan Basin and the Three Gorges Region. Geographical Research 25(4): 641–647. (In Chinese with English abstract).Google Scholar
  33. Qin J, Huh Y, Edmond JM, et al. (2006) Chemical and physical weathering in the Min Jiang, a headwater tributary of the Yangtze River. Chemical Geology 227: 53–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Quine T, Walling DE, Zhang XB (1999) Tillage erosion, water erosion and soil quality on cultivated terraces near Xifeng in the Loess Plateau, China. Land Degradation and Development 10: 251–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Ritchie JC, McHenry JR (1990) Application of radiation fallout 137Cs for measuring soil erosion and sediment accumulation rates and patterns: A review. Journal of Environmental Quality 19: 215–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rysin II (1998) Gully erosion in Udmurtiya. Izhevsk, Izd-vo Udmurt. University. (In Russian)Google Scholar
  37. Schuller P, Walling DE, Sepulveda A, et al. (2004) Use of 137Cs measurements to estimate changes in soil erosion rates associated with changes in soil management practices on cultivated land. Applied Radiation and Isotopes 60: 759–766.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Shi DM (1998) Analysis relationship between soil and water losses and flood disaster in Yangtze River basin. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 5: 1–7. (In Chinese with English abstract).Google Scholar
  39. Su ZA, Zhang JH, Nie XJ (2010) Effect of Soil Erosion on Soil Properties and Crop Yields on Slopes in the Sichuan Basin, China. Pedospher 20(6): 736–746.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sutherland RA (1992) Caesium-137 estimates of erosion in agricultural areas. Hydrological Processes 6: 215–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. The Office of Soil and Water Conservation Committee of Sichuan Province (1991) Compilation of Experiment and Observation Results of Soil and Water Conservation in Sichuan Province. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  42. Tiessen KHD, Li S, Lobb DA, et al. (2009) Using repeated measurements of 137Cs and modeling to identify spatial patterns of tillage and water erosion within potato production in Atlantic Canada. Geoderma 153: 104–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Walling DE, Fang D (2003) Recent trends in the suspended sediment loads of the world’s rivers. Global and Planetary Change 39: 111–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Walling DE, Golosov VN, Panin AV, et al. (2000) Use of radiocaesium to investigate erosion and sedimentation in areas with high levels of Chernobyl fallout. In: Foster IDL (Ed.) Tracers in Geomorphology. John Wiley and Sons, Chichester, pp 183–201.Google Scholar
  45. Walling DE, He Q, Blake W (1999) Use of 7Be and 137Cs measurements to document short- and medium-term rates of water induced erosion on agricultural land. Water Resources Research 35: 3865–3874.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Wang SJ, Liu QM, Zhang DF (2004) Karst rocky desertification in southwestern China: geomorphology, land use, impact and rehabilitation. Land Degradation and Development 15: 115–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wang YK, Wen AB, Zhang XB (2003) Study of Soil Erosion on Cultivated Slope Land in Severe soil Loss Regions of Upper Reaches of Yangtze River Basin Using 137Cs Technique. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 17(2): 77–80. (In Chinese with English abstract).Google Scholar
  48. Wen AB, Zhang XB, Wang YK, et al. (2002) Study on soil erosion rates using 137Cs technique in Upper Yangtze River. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. (In Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  49. Wen AB, Qi YQ, Wang YC (2005) Study on Erosion and Sedimentation in Yangtze Three Gorge Region. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 19(2): 33–36. (In Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  50. Wen AB, Zhang XB, Li H (2008) Interpreting variations of 137Cs, 210Pbex and fine particle contents in a deposit profile of the Jiulongdian Reservoir, Chuxiong, Yunnan, China. Journal of Sediment Research 6: 17–23. (In Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  51. Wen AB, Zhang XB, Wang YK (2011) A Study on Soil Erosion Rates of the Purple Slope Cultivated Land Using Caesium-137 Technique in the Upper of the Yangtze River, Journal of Mountain Science 19(S): 56–59.Google Scholar
  52. Wu W, Yang J, Xu S, et al. (2008) Geochemistry of the headwaters of the Yangtze River, Tongtian He and Jinslha Jiang: Silicate weathering and CO2 consumption. Applied Geochemistry 23: 3712–3727.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Yang D, Kanae S, Oki T, et al. (2003) Global potential soil erosion with reference to land use and climate changes. Hydrological Processes 17: 2913–2928.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Yang JL, Zhang CL, Shi XZ, et al. (2009) Dynamic changes of nitrogen and phosphorus losses in ephemeral runoff processes by typical storm events in Sichuan Basin, Southwest China. Soil and Tillage Research 105: 292–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Yang S, Jung HS, Li C (2004) Two unique weathering regimes in the Changjiang and Huanghe drainage basins: Geochemical evidence from river sediments. Sedimentary Geology 164: 19–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Yin H, Li C, Chen D, et al. (1998) Problems and countermeasures on the flood control of middle Yangtze River. Proceedings of the Symposium of Resources, Environment and Sustainable Development of Central China and Hubei Province, Wuhan. China University. Geosciences Press. pp 1–7. (In Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar
  57. Zhang XB, Bai XY, Liu XM (2011) Application of 137Cs fingerprinting technique to interpreting responses of sediment deposition of a karst depression to deforestation in the catchment of the Guizhou Plateau, China. Science China 41(2): 265–271.Google Scholar
  58. Zhang XB, Long Y, He XB, et al. (2008) A simplified 137Cs transport model for estimating erosion rates in undisturbed soil. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 99(8): 1242–1246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Zhang XB, Quine TA, Walling DE (1998) Soil erosion rates on sloping land on the Loess Plateau near Ansai, Shanxi Province, China: an investigation using 137Cs and rill measurements. Hydrological Processes 12: 171–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Zhang XB, Wen AB (2002) Variations of sediment in upper stream of Yangtze River and its tributary. SHUILI XUEBAO 4: 56–59. (In Chinese with English abstract)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Golosov Valentin
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Xin-bao Zhang
    • 1
  • Xiu-bin He
    • 1
    Email author
  • Qiang Tang
    • 1
    • 4
  • Ping Zhou
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Mountain Surface Processes and Ecological Regulation, Institute of Mountain Hazards and EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesChengduChina
  2. 2.Faculty of GeographyMoscow State UniversityMoscowRussia
  3. 3.Kazan (Volga region) State UniversityKazanRussia
  4. 4.State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-environment SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations