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Forskningsartikel - Refereegranskat, 2023

Tracing the dominant sources of sediment flowing towards Lake Victoria using geochemical tracers and a Bayesian mixing model

James, Renatus; Amasi, Aloyce I.; Wynants, Maarten; Nobert, Joel; Mtei, Kelvin M.; Njau, Karoli


PurposeLake Victoria has been increasingly silting over the past decades, impacting water quality and loss of biodiversity. Sediment control strategies require information on the relative and absolute contributions of sediment from different sources. However, to date, there is no continuous monitoring of sediment flux or water quality in any of the tributaries, prohibiting an assessment of the scale of the problem. The aim of this study was to trace the dominant sources of riverine sediment using geochemical fingerprinting, thereby generating a knowledge base for improving land management and reducing sediment yields in Simiyu River catchment, one of the main contributing rivers to Lake Victoria.Materials and methodsGeochemical tracer concentrations were analyzed in transported sediment from the main river and two tributaries (riverbed sediments) and from soils in five dominant land use types (agricultural land, bush land, forest land, channel banks, and main river banks). Dominant sources to the Simiyu main river sediment were attributed using the Bayesian MixSIAR model.Results and discussionThe mixing model outputs showed that the Simiyu tributary was the dominant source of sediment to the Simiyu main river with 63.2%, while the Duma tributary accounted for 36.8%. Cultivated land was shown to be the main land use source of riverine sediment, accounting for 80.0% and 86.4% in Simiyu and Duma sub-tributaries, respectively, followed by channel banks with 9.0% in both sub-tributaries. Direct unmixing of the Simiyu main river sediment to the land use sources yielded 64.7% contribution of cultivated land and 26.5% of channel banks.ConclusionThe demonstrated application of sediment source tracing provides an important pathway for quantifying the dominant sources of sediment in the rivers flowing towards Lake Victoria. Eroded soil from agricultural areas is the biggest contributor to transported sediment in the Simiyu River. This information is vital for the design of catchment wide management plans that should focus on reducing soil erosion and sediment delivery from farming areas to the river networks, ultimately supporting both food security and water quality in the Lake Victoria Basin.


Soil erosion; Water quality; Lake Victoria Basin; Sediment fingerprinting; MixSIAR; Simiyu catchment

Publicerad i

Journal of Soils and Sediments
2023, Volym: 23, nummer: 3, sidor: 1568-1580

    Globala målen

    SDG6 Clean water and sanitation
    SDG15 Life on land

    UKÄ forskningsämne

    Soil Science
    Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources

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