Spatial distribution of arsenic along groundwater flow path in Chaobai River alluvial–proluvial fan, North China Plain

  • Chuanshun Zhi
  • Honghan ChenEmail author
  • Peng Li
  • Chunyang Ma
  • Jia Zhang
  • Chong Zhang
  • Chensheng Wang
  • Xiaojing Yue
Original Article


The North China Plain has been identified as a potential high-arsenic (As) groundwater area; however, little is known about the As distribution along the groundwater flow path. In this study, 154 groundwater samples were collected from the alluvial–proluvial fan of the Chaobai River, which lies in the north of the North China Plain. The chemical compositions of the samples were analyzed to investigate the spatial distribution of groundwater As and to understand the hydrogeochemical processes that controls As mobilization. Results revealed that groundwater As concentrations were < 1 μg/L in the piedmont recharge zone (zone I) where groundwater flushing was strong, while high (< 1–73 μg/L) in the middle runoff zone (zone II), which features a moderate permeability and hydraulic gradient. In the downward plain zone (zone III) under stagnant hydraulic conditions, groundwater As concentrations reached 111 μg/L. Vertically, high-As groundwater mainly occurred in shallow aquifers (depths < 100 m) in zones II and III. In addition, iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), and NH4+ concentrations showed increasing trends similar to those of As along the groundwater flow path, whereas the NO3 concentrations and redox potential (Eh) showed decreasing trends, which implies a gradual change in the redox conditions. The systematic variation in the As concentrations along the groundwater flow path and the correlations between As and redox sensitive components suggest that groundwater As would occur via the reductive dissolution of Fe/Mn oxides and that slow groundwater flow is an important factor that promotes As enrichment in groundwater.


Arsenic Geochemistry Hydrogeology Alluvial–proluvial fan Groundwater 



The study is supported by the Program of China Geological Survey (Grant No. 1212011121173) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41672239) and the National Science and Technology Major Project (Grant No. 2016ZX05040-002-003). The authors would like to thank Professor Huaming Guo for his helpful comments on this manuscript.

Supplementary material

12665_2019_8260_MOESM1_ESM.docx (2.3 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 2337 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chuanshun Zhi
    • 1
  • Honghan Chen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Peng Li
    • 2
  • Chunyang Ma
    • 1
  • Jia Zhang
    • 1
  • Chong Zhang
    • 1
  • Chensheng Wang
    • 3
  • Xiaojing Yue
    • 1
  1. 1.Beijing Key Laboratory of Water Resources and Environmental Engineering, School of Water Resources and EnvironmentChina University of GeosciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Beijing Institute of Hydrogeology and Engineering GeologyBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Beijing Institute of Geology for Mineral ResourcesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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