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Three gorges dam shifts estuarine heavy metal risk through suspended sediment gradation.

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Zeng, Yichuan 
Wang, Hua 
Yuan, Weihao 
Yan, Yuting 


Damming alters downstream sediment supply relationships and erosion in the estuarine delta. Given that sediment grainsize serves as a key parameter for the ability to adsorb heavy metals from water, the assessment of estuarine heavy metal risk needs to get connected initially. Hence, fine suspended sediment (<63 μm) in the Yangtze River estuary (YRE) was divided into four grainsize fractions to simulate the surface suspended sediment concentration (SSC) and grainsize composition before and after the completion of the Three Gorges Dam (TGD). Representative months were selected for flood peak reduction (October) and runoff compensation in the dry season (March) to maximize the scheduling impact of the TGD on runoff and riverine sediment input to the YRE. An improved Water Quality Index (WQI) approach was proposed to assess the combined risk alteration of five heavy metals in six estuarine sensitive targets due to TGD-induced sediment characteristics. The results demonstrated that TGD significantly but tardily reduced the SSC and the proportion of fine sediment in the YRE, decreasing the risk of heavy metals resuspension. Seasonally, the total SSC became higher in the flood season than in the dry season during post-TGD period. However, the fine SSC in the flood season was averaged only 59.7% of that in the dry season due to the pronounced grainsize coarsening effect. As the significant reduction in fine SSC overcomes the increase in heavy metal content per unit of SS, the integrated resuspension risk declined significantly, particularly for Pb and Cr. Spatially, the risk reduction for sensitive targets near the turbidity maximum zone (TMZ) is 8.4 times greater than for inner river channel. However, undiminished anthropogenic metal inputs to the YRE signified greater pressures on the depositional environment.



Grainsize gradation, Heavy metal risk, Riverine input, Three gorges dam, Yangtze river estuary, Environmental Monitoring, Metals, Heavy, Estuaries, Rivers, Geologic Sediments, China, Water Pollutants, Chemical

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J Environ Manage

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Elsevier BV