Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2017, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (1): 95-108.doi: 10.1007/s11442-017-1366-8

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Geochemical characterization of loess-paleosol
sequences: Comparison between the upper reaches of the Hanjiang and Weihe river valleys, China

Hongyan BIAN1,2(), Chunchang HUANG2, Yali ZHOU2   

  1. 1. School of Geographical Sciences, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China
    2. College of Tourism and Environment Science, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an 710062, China
  • Received:2015-12-30 Accepted:2016-06-10 Online:2017-02-10 Published:2017-02-10
  • About author:

    Author: Bian Hongyan (1986-), PhD and Lecturer, specialized in resource development and environmental changes. E-mail:

    *Corresponding author: Pang Jiangli (1963-), PhD and Professor, E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41271108, No.41471071, No.41371029;The Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, No.XDJK2016C091, No.SWU114067


This paper aims to compare the geochemical characteristics of loess-paleosol sequences in the upper reaches of the Hanjiang and Weihe river valleys, which are located in the semi-humid temperate zone and humid subtropical zone, respectively. The Mituosi (MTS) profile in the upper reaches of the Hanjiang River valley and the Yaohecun (YHC) profile in the Weihe River valley were selected for this comparative research. The stratigraphic characteristics, composition, chemical weathering intensity, leaching rates of Ca and Na, mobility of major elements, and transport features of Na and Fe were analyzed with respect to depth and compared between the two profiles. This study reached the following conclusions. (1) The composition of the loess-paleosol sequences in two regions are quite similar to the average composition of the upper continental crust (UCC), indicating that the loess in the two regions came from multiple sources and was mixed well. Therefore, the loess in the two regions is considered aeolian loess. (2) Compared with the loess-paleosol sequence in the Weihe River valley, the loess-paleosol sequence in the upper reaches of the Hanjiang River valley features a darker color; a higher chemical index of alteration (CIA) value; higher leaching rates of Na and Ca; higher migration ratio (relative to K) of Al, Si, Mg, and Na; and lower migration ratio of Fe and Ca. This evidence indicates that the loess-paleosol sequence in the humid subtropical environment experienced stronger chemical weathering intensity than the loess-paleosol sequence in the semi-humid temperate zone. (3) Both the YHC profile and MTS profile record a period of climate deterioration at 6000-5000 a BP. The period punctuated the mid-Holocene Climatic Optimum (8500-3100 a BP) in the study area.

Key words: loess-paleosol sequence, geochemical characterization, Hanjiang and Weihe river valleys