Sand mining in the Mekong Delta revisited - current scales of local sediment deficits

Sci Rep. 2019 Nov 28;9(1):17823. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-53804-z.


The delta of the Mekong River in Vietnam has been heavily impacted by anthropogenic stresses in recent years, such as upstream dam construction and sand mining within the main and distributary channels, leading to riverbank and coastal erosion. Intensive bathymetric surveys, conducted within the Tien River branch during the dry and wet season 2018, reveal a high magnitude of sand mining activities. For the year 2018, an analysis of bathymetric maps and the local refilling processes leads to an estimated sand extraction volume of 4.64 [Formula: see text] 0.31 Mm[Formula: see text]/yr in the study area, which covered around 20 km. Reported statistics of sand mining for all of the Mekong's channels within the delta, which have a cumulative length of several hundred kilometres, are 17.77 Mm[Formula: see text]/yr for this period. Results from this study highlight that these statistics are likely too conservative. It is also shown that natural sediment supplies from upper reaches of the Mekong are insufficient to compensate for the loss of extracted bed aggregates, illustrating the non-sustainable nature of the local sand mining practices.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't