Geochemical characteristics of fine and coarse fractions of sediments in the Yarlung Zangbo River Basin (southern Tibet, China)

  • Shisong Du
  • Yongqiu WuEmail author
  • Lihua Tan
  • Wenmin Huang
  • Chengzhi Hao
Original Article


Tracing sources of aeolian sediment is key to reconstructing earth surface processes in arid areas and interpreting the paleoenvironmental significance of aeolian sequences. However, the difference of geochemical characteristics between different fractions of sediments in the Yarlung Zangbo River Basin (YZRB) is still unclear, so we want to identify which fraction of sediments is more suitable for tracing sediment sources. Considering the long distance between different wide valleys in the YZRB, we wonder whether there is any difference between these wide valleys in terms of geochemical characteristics of sediments. Forty-three surface sediment samples in the YZRB are collected, and the grain-size distributions and the major-element composition for 37 samples and the trace and rare earth element composition for the coarse (75–500 μm) and fine (< 75 μm) fractions of all samples are determined. The results reveal the following: (1) the fine fractions of the deposits contain more environmental information, suggesting that the fine fractions cannot be directly compared between different climate zones for provenance identification and that appropriate coarse fractions, based on the grain-size distribution of the targeted sediments, are more ideal for tracing sediment sources; and (2) geochemical characteristics of various sediment types show spatial heterogeneity. The coarse and fine fractions of the loose sediment samples can be divided into two regional groups based on geochemical characteristics: the Maquanhe zone in the upper reach, the Xigaze, Shannan and Mainling zone in the middle reach, which is consistent with the geological background of the YZRB; (3) aeolian deposits in the YZRB are a local origin and predominantly derived from the adjacent loose sediments, and fluvial sediments in the upper reach contribute little to the aeolian sands in the middle reach.


Tibetan Plateau Yarlung Zangbo River Aeolian deposits Provenance Geochemistry 



This research was supported by the (973) National Basic Research Program of China (Grant No. 2013CB956001), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41071129, 41601191), and the Fund for Creative Research Groups of National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41321001). The authors would also like to extend our gratitude to Alice Yu and Emily Yu of Middlesex School, Concord, Massachusetts for revising and editing this paper.

Supplementary material

12665_2018_7468_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (36 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 35 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shisong Du
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Yongqiu Wu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Lihua Tan
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Wenmin Huang
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Chengzhi Hao
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource EcologyBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.MOE Engineering Center of Desertification and Blown-sand ControlBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.Faculty of Geographical ScienceBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina

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