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Sediment grain-size characteristics and its source implication in the Ningxia–Inner Mongolia sections on the upper reaches of the Yellow River

Pan, Baotian, Pang, Hongli, Zhang, Di, Guan, Qingyu, Wang, Lei, Li, Fuqiang, Guan, Wenqian, Cai, Ao, Sun, Xiazhong
Geomorphology 2015 v.246 pp. 255-262
floodplains, pollution load, rivers, sediment yield, silt, stream channels, water conservation, wind, Mongolia, Yellow River
The Ningxia–Inner Mongolia (NIM) reaches of the Yellow River are characterized by a high sediment load, severe siltation, large channel migration, and frequent dike breaching, resulting in substantial social, economic, and environmental problems for residents along the river. Therefore, studies on the grain-size characteristics of sediments in the NIM reaches of the Yellow River and locating the primary sediment source areas are important for the prevention and mitigation of silt accumulation and the construction of water conservation facilities. In this study, 361 samples from the Yellow River and 178 samples from potential source areas were analyzed. Large grain sizes in the riverbed and floodplain materials were found in the desert sections and in sections containing 10 tributaries, respectively. The size of the riverbed and floodplain materials fluctuates relatively frequently in the tributary sections and is coarser at confluences of the tributaries with the Yellow River. The floodplain material is better sorted than the riverbed material, and the sorting coefficients (especially the former) fluctuate most widely in the tributaries sections. Two main fractions of the floodplain and most of the riverbed materials in the major river reaches are observed: 3.9–63μm and 63–250μm. The first fraction component of the riverbed material, 63–250μm, is found in the desert sections and part of the tributary sections, whereas the second fraction component (250–500μm) is found in some parts of the desert sections. The variations in the size characteristics of the riverbed and floodplain materials demonstrate that both materials are derived from lateral sources. The main sources of the riverbed materials are the Ulan Buh Desert and the Kubuqi Desert in the Wuhai-Zhonghexi reaches, and the main sources of the riverbed and floodplain materials are the 10 tributaries in the Zhonghexi-Lama Bay reaches. The riverbed and floodplain materials in the desert sections are deposited near the source and far from the source, respectively. Both types of sediments in the tributary sections are mainly deposited near their sources. Through wind and hydraulic sorting, the size of the riverbed material in the tributaries sections becomes finer in contrast to that in the desert sections, which suggests that coarse sediments have not been effectively carried downstream.