Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 857–869 | Cite as

Interpreting sedimentation dynamics at Longxi catchment in the Three Gorges Area, China, using Cs-137 activity, particle size and rainfall erosivity

  • Jin-zhang Gao
  • Yi LongEmail author
  • Xin-bao Zhang
  • Adrian L. Collins
  • Xiu-bin He
  • Yun-qi Zhang
  • Zhong-lin Shi


Reservoir sedimentation dynamics were interpreted using Cs-137 activity, particle size and rainfall erosivity analysis in conjunction with sediment profile coring. Two sediment cores were retrieved from the Changshou reservoir of Chongqing, which was dammed in 1956 at the outlet of Longxi catchment in the Three Gorges Area using a gravity corer equipped with an acrylic tube with an inner diameter of 6 cm. The extracted cores were sectioned at 2 cm intervals. All sediment core samples were dried, sieved (<2 mm) and weighed. 137Cs activity was measured by γ-ray spectrometry. The particle size of the core samples was measured using laser particle size granulometry. Rainfall erosivity was calculated using daily rainfall data from meteorological records and information on soil conservation history was collated to help interpret temporal sedimentation trends. The peak fallout of 137Cs in 1963 appeared at a depth of 84 cm in core A and 56 cm in core B. The peaks of sand contents were related to the peaks of rainfall erosivity which were recorded in 1982, 1989, 1998 and 2005, respectively. Sedimentation rates were calculated according to the sediment profile chronological controls of 1956, 1963, 1982, 1989, 1998 and 2005. The highest sedimentation rate was around 2.0 cm∙a-1 between 1982 and 1988 when the Chinese national reform and the Household Responsibility System were implemented, leading to accelerated soil erosion in the Longxi catchment. Since 1990s, and particularly since 2005, sedimentation rates clearly decreased, since a number of soil conservation programs have been carried out in the catchment. The combined use of 137Cs chronology, particle size and rainfall erosivity provided a simple basis for reconstructing reservoir sedimentation dynamics in the context of both physical processes and soil restoration. Its advantages include avoiding the need for full blown sediment yield reconstruction and the concomitant consideration of core correlation and corrections for autochthonous inputs and reservoir trap efficiency.


Sedimentation Cesium-137 Particle size Rainfall erosivity Soil erosion Three Gorges Area 


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jin-zhang Gao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yi Long
    • 1
    Email author
  • Xin-bao Zhang
    • 1
  • Adrian L. Collins
    • 3
  • Xiu-bin He
    • 1
  • Yun-qi Zhang
    • 4
  • Zhong-lin Shi
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Mountain Surface Processes and Ecological Regulation, Institute of Mountain Hazards and EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesChengduChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Sustainable Soils and Grassland Systems DepartmentRothamsted ResearchNorth Wyke, Okehampton, DevonUK
  4. 4.Shandong Provincial Key Laboratory of Water and Soil Conservation and Environmental ProtectionLinyi UniversityLinyiChina

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