Distribution characteristics and influencing factors of uranium isotopes in Saline Lakewaters in the Northeast of Qaidam Basin

Chen Zhao, Pu Zhang, Xiangzhong Li, Youfeng Ning, Liangcheng Tan, R. Lawrence Edwards, Xiunan Yao, Hai Cheng

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16 Scopus citations


Four saline lakes in the northeast of Qaidam Basin were selected to explore the distribution characteristics and influencing factors of uranium isotopes in lake waters with high evaporation background. The 238U concentration and the activity ratios of 234U/238U ([234U/238U]AR) showed that there was no significant change in the same lake, but there was a certain degree of difference in the distribution between different lakes. We found that aqueous 238U concentration within a certain range increased with an increase in TDS (total dissolved solid) and salinity, as was also the case with pH. As in natural waters, the pH affects the speciation of 238U, but TDS and salinity affect the adsorption process of aqueous 238U. Further, the replenishment of water will also affect the uranium isotope concentration for lakes, but it is not the main influencing factor for saline lakes. Therefore, we suggest that pH is the dominant factor affecting changes in aqueous 238U concentration of the sampled saline lakes. The [234U/238U]AR in these saline lakes are closely related to the input water and the associated water–rock interactions involving sediments, atmosphere dust, and organic material, etc. during the evolution stage, metamorphous degree, and hydrochemistry of the saline lakes. Lake water samples collected in the maximum and minimum discharge water period, were used to evaluate the seasonal distribution characteristics of aqueous 238U, and we found that 238U concentration did not show an evident change with the seasons in these saline lakes. If the 238U concentration and [234U/238U]AR can remain consistent during a period of time, then the sediment ages and/or sedimentation rates could be determined by lake sediment and/or biogenic carbonate in future, thus allowing for the accurate reconstruction of the paleoclimate and paleoenvironment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number74
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41873013; No.41888101), the National Natural Science Foundation of USA (No. 1702816) and the 111 program of China (No. D19002).

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments: The samples collection was supported by Weiguo Liu and Hu Liu of Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Science. And we are grateful to two reviewer and editor’s constructive comments for improve manuscript quality and Haiwei Zhang’s help for improving framework of manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Distribution characteristic
  • Environmental impact
  • Influencing factor
  • Lake water
  • The northeast of Qaidam Basin
  • Uranium isotope


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