Geothermal spring causes arsenic contamination in river waters of the southern Tibetan Plateau, China

Chaoliu Li, Shichang Kang, Pengfei Chen, Qianggong Zhang, Jue Mi, Shaopeng Gao, Mika Sillanpää

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47 Citations (Scopus)


Large numbers of As-enriched geothermal springs are distributed at the southern Tibetan Plateau, and their influence on river water is still not clear. Lhasa River and its tributary, Duilong Qu located at downstream of the largest geothermal spring of the Tibetan Plateau, were selected for sampling during monsoon and non-monsoon seasons. Dissolved trace elements (B, Cr, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Cs, Ba and U) were measured in river water samples by ICP-MS. The results show that due to contribution of geothermal spring, As levels of Duilong Qu (205.6 μg/L) and Lhasa River (12.7 μg/L) were higher during non-monsoon season than that of WHO guideline for drinking water (10 μg/L). Accordingly, As level of river water was lower during the monsoon season than that of the non-monsoon season due mainly to dilution process. Therefore, although Tibetan rivers are generally considered as free of contamination, geothermal springs cause As contamination of river water at some local regions and may harm the local residents. Further research is needed in other parts of the plateau to determine whether As level of groundwater of the related region is high.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4143-4148
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Earth Sciences
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Arsenic
  • Geothermal spring
  • Lhasa River
  • Tibetan Plateau
  • Water quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Pollution
  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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