The hydro-fluctuation belt of the Three Gorges Reservoir : Source or sink of microplastics in the water?

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journal

6 Scopus Citations
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  • Xianchuan Chen
  • Xiong Xiong
  • Hane Zhou
  • Chenxi Wu


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-285
Journal / PublicationEnvironmental Pollution
Online published16 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


Reservoirs can be an important environmental compartment for microplastic pollution. Previous investigations have found that surface waters and sediments in the Three Gorges Reservoir (TGR) have had high microplastic abundance, and the Xiangxi River, which is one of the largest primary tributaries of the TGR, has had much higher microplastic abundance than several marine and freshwater systems in China. A strip of land on the bank of the reservoir area, which is called the hydro-fluctuation belt (HFB), is periodically exposed due to the special hydrodynamic conditions in the TGR. The HFB may be an important source and/or sink of microplastics in TGR. In this study, microplastic occurrence in sediments from the Xiangxi River HFB was investigated to reflect the local microplastic pollution status and to evaluate its potential to serve as a source/sink of microplastics in the TGR. Seven sampling sites were selected, and sediments within the HFB and above the belt were collected in summer when the water level was low. The results showed that the microplastic abundance ranged from 0.55 ± 0.12 × 103 to 14.58 ± 5.67 × 103 particles m−2, which was one to two orders of magnitude higher than that in sediments from the Xiangxi River in our previous study (80–846 particles m−2). Statistical analysis revealed that the microplastic abundance within the HFB was significantly higher than that of the area above the HFB. The results indicate that the HFB can be an important microplastic sink when the water level is low, and the belt can turn into a potential source when the water level is high. Cluster analysis was applied to reveal the characteristics of the microplastics collected at different sites, and the results suggest that the cluster analysis may be a useful tool in elucidating the source and fate of microplastics.

Research Area(s)

  • Cluster analysis, Hydro-fluctuation belt, Microplastics, Reservoir, Soil

Citation Format(s)