Channel form and processes of the flood‐dominated Narmada River, India

S. N. Rajaguru*, Avijit Gupta, V. S. Kale, Sheila Mishra, R. K. Ganjoo, L. L. Ely, Yahouda Enzel, V. R. Baker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The 1300 km long Narmada River flows along a structural lineament, alternating between constricting rocky gorges and rapids, and meandering wide alluvial reaches. Channel forms and processes were studied in a 120 km long section of an alluvial reach. Channel size, shape and bedforms in the Narmada River are related to very large floods which have occurred three times in this century. During such floods the entire 400 m wide channel is utilized and 10–15 m high cliffs on both sides operate as riverbanks. Normally, even the high flows of the south‐western monsoon are insufficient to fill the whole channel, and hence their effects are limited to building of discontinuous floodplains between the cliffs and modifying bedforms and bars. A channel‐in‐channel topography is thus created. The very large floods are also responsible for erosion of the rocky stretches and building of point bars. The river meanders, but its movement is restricted because of (1) rocky gorges and scablands operating as anchor points at intervals, and (2) the presence of high alluvial cliffs which are topped on extremely rare occasions. In spite of being located in a tectonically active zone in a monsoon setting, it is the exceptional high‐magnitude floods at irregular intervals which control the form and behaviour of the Narmada River.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)407-421
Number of pages15
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • flood geomorphology
  • point bar
  • seasonal regime
  • shear stress


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