The impoundment of the Three Gorges Reservoir (TGR) on the Yangtze River in China burdened its tributary backwaters with severe environmental problems.(1) Confluence zones of reservoir tributaries with the Yangtze River main channel are main drivers of pollutant dynamics in the TGR(2) and are thus keys to develop mitigation measures. Here, we show a novel experimental approach of spatiotemporal water quality analysis to trace water mass movements and identify pollutant transport pathways in reservoir water bodies. Our results show the movements of density currents in a major tributary backwater of the TGR. A huge interflow density current from the Yangtze River main channel transported its heavy metal carriage to the upstream reaches of the tributary backwater. Water from the upstream backwater moved counterwise and carried less but pollutant-enriched suspended sediments. This scenario illustrates the importance of confluence zone hydrodynamics for fates and pathways of pollutants through the widely unknown hydrodynamics of new reservoirs.
; HEAVY-METAL POLLUTION
; DANING RIVER
1.Karlsruhe Inst Technol, Inst Mineral & Geochem, D-76131 Karlsruhe, Germany 2.Chinese Res Inst Environm Sci, Beijing 100012, Peoples R China 3.Chinese Acad Sci, Inst Hydrobiol, Wuhan 430072, Peoples R China