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Geophysical Monograph Series



  • Indus Civilization
  • the Harappan Period
  • geomorphology
  • Ghaggar River
  • sand dune
  • OSL dating

Index Terms

  • 1825 Hydrology: Geomorphology: fluvial
  • 1130 Geochronology: Geomorphological geochronology
  • 1105 Geochronology: Quaternary geochronology
  • 9320 Geographic Location: Asia



Geomorphological Constraints on the Ghaggar River Regime During the Mature Harappan Period

H. Maemoku, Y. Shitaoka, T. Nagatomo, and H. Yagi

The course of the Ghaggar ephemeral stream has been proposed as a possible location for the mythical Sarasvati River. Here we examine “the Lost Sarasvati” hypothesis from a geomorphological perspective with the aid of a new chronology of floodplains and sand dunes in the Ghaggar river basin. First, we compare the floodplains of the large glacial-fed Himalayan Rivers with the Ghaggar floodplain to show that the size of floodplains is directly proportional to the volume of annual river discharges. Thus, the Ghaggar floodplain is too small to explain large discharges along this stream in the past or under the present ephemeral flows. Next, we use optically stimulated luminescence to determine the age of sand dunes developed on either side of Ghaggar floodplain. These dunes have started to form prior to the Mature Harappan period and continue to grow until present. In our conclusions, we argue that the Ghaggar was not a large river as “the mighty Sarasvati” has been described at least during the Mature Harappan period.

Citation: Maemoku, H., Y. Shitaoka, T. Nagatomo, and H. Yagi (2012), Geomorphological constraints on the Ghaggar River regime during the Mature Harappan period, in Climates, Landscapes, and Civilizations, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 198, edited by L. Giosan et al., 97–106, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/2012GM001218.

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