Water quality and sediment geochemistry in lakes of Yunnan Province, southern China

  • Whitmore T
  • Brenner M
  • Jiang Z
 et al. 
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Yungui Plateau lakes in southwestern China are economically important,
although few have been studied previously. Water and sediments of 24
lakes throughout Yunnan Province were sampled in October 1994. We
describe the chemical and physical characteristics of Yunnan lakes, and
address effects of regional geology and human influences on water
quality and sediment type. Water quality differs between deep Yunnan
lakes of tectonic origin and shallow solution basins. Shallow lakes
generally have higher nutrient concentrations and appear to be more
susceptible to riparian disturbance than deeper lakes. Shallow lakes
with high macrophyte standing crops, nevertheless, exhibit nutrient-poor
waters. Principal ions Ca2+, Mg2+ and HCO3- reflect regional carbonate
geology, except in Cheng Hai, which is a sodium bicarbonate lake.
Specific conductance and delta(18)O are positively correlated,
indicating that evaporation concentrates both solutes and O-18. Large,
shallow lakes in southeastern Yunnan exhibit O-18-enriched waters
because of substantial evaporation, whereas small, deep lakes are
O-18-depleted. Lake waters are O-18-depleted in small, shallow basins
that receive substantial rainwater input relative to their small
volumes. O-18- enrichment in Cheng Hai suggests that a recent 5-m
water-level decline in this lake was caused by increased evaporation or
diversion of freshwater inflow. Yunnan watersheds have undergone
substantial deforestation, agricultural cultivation, soil erosion, and
industrialization. Limnetic nutrient concentrations indicate that human
activities have affected water quality. Organic matter content is low in
sediments because of increased non-carbonate, elastic sediment yield
from watersheds. Environmental policies are needed to balance ecological
contraints with economic activities that impact water quality.

Author-supplied keywords

  • China
  • Isotopes
  • Lakes
  • Sediment
  • Water quality
  • Yunnan

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  • T. J. Whitmore

  • M. Brenner

  • Z. Jiang

  • J. H. Curtis

  • A. M. Moore

  • D. R. Engstrom

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