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01.06.2016 | Original Article | Ausgabe 11/2016

Environmental Earth Sciences 11/2016

Identification of nitrate source using isotopic and geochemical data in the lower reaches of the Yellow River irrigation district (China)

Zeitschrift:
Environmental Earth Sciences > Ausgabe 11/2016
Autoren:
Wenjia Wang, Xianfang Song, Ying Ma

Abstract

Nitrate contamination in both surface water and groundwater has received considerable attentions in irrigated agricultural areas. Nitrate concentrations, and its nitrogen and oxygen isotopic compositions, as well as oxygen and deuterium isotopic compositions and chloride concentrations of surface water and groundwater from a typical area in the lower reaches of the Yellow River irrigation district were analyzed to ascertain spatial variations of nitrate and its possible sources and transformations. The results of this study showed nitrate in the Yellow River mainly derived from mineralization of organic matter in sediments and nitrification of atmospheric deposition, and nitrate in other important tributaries were greatly affected by agricultural activities, especially synthetic fertilizer. Nitrate in irrigation canals which go through concentrated residential zone mainly originated from domestic effluent and experienced nitrification. Nitrate in groundwater is not only affected by surface nitrate sources, but also closely related to hydraulic conditions which make nitrate source discrimination more complex. In areas belonging to the Yellow River basin with shallow water tables, nitrate is mainly derived from synthetic fertilizer, and denitrification processes controlled nitrate isotopic compositions in extremely shallow groundwater with low hydraulic gradients. While in places belonging to the Haihe River basin with deep water table, groundwater nitrate is largely affected by mixing process of irrigation water. The main sources of nitrate in groundwater are manure and sewage and soil organic matter, while chemical fertilizer and atmospheric deposition in large amount of rainfall are its minor contributors.

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