Terrestrial selenium distribution in China is potentially linked to monsoonal climate

T. Blazina, Y. Sun, A. Voegelin, M. Lenz, M. Berg, L.H.E. Winkel

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54 Citations (Scopus)


The prevalence of terrestrial environments low in the essential trace element selenium (Se) results in large-scale Se deficiency worldwide. However, the underlying processes leading to Se-depleted environments have remained elusive. Here we show that over the last 6.8 million years (Ma) climatic factors have played a key role in the Se distribution in loess–paleosol sequences in the Chinese Loess Plateau (CLP), which lies in a severely Se-depleted region with a history of Se deficiency-related diseases. We use a combination of geochemical and paleoclimate data to demonstrate that during interglacial periods between 2.30 and 0.16¿Ma, variations in the Se concentration in the CLP are potentially related to variability in Se input via East Asian monsoon-derived precipitation. Our results identify precipitation as an important controlling factor of Se distribution in monsoonal China. We suggest that atmospheric Se inputs via precipitation could also play an important role in other regions worldwide.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4717
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • red clay formation
  • loess plateau
  • atmospheric selenium
  • trace-metals
  • adsorption
  • speciation
  • pliocene
  • records
  • water
  • soil

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