Morphodynamics of the Kulsi River Basin in the northern front of Shillong Plateau: Exhibiting episodic inundation and channel migration

  • Watinaro Imsong
  • Swapnamita Choudhury
  • Sarat Phukan
  • Bhagawat Pran Duarah


The present study is undertaken in the Kulsi River valley, a tributary of the Brahmaputra River that drains through the tectonically active Shillong Plateau in northeast India. Based on the fluvial geomorphic parameters and Landsat satellite images, it has been observed that the Kulsi River migrated 0.7–2 km westward in its middle course in the past 30 years. Geomorphic parameters such as longitudinal profile analysis, stream length gradient index (SL), ratio of valley floor width to valley height (Vf), steepness index (\(k_{s})\) indicate that the upstream segment of the Kulsi River is tectonically more active than the downstream segment which is ascribed to the tectonic activities along the Guwahati Fault. \(^{14}\hbox {C}\) ages obtained from the submerged tree trunks of the Chandubi Lake, which is located in the central part of the Kulsi River catchment suggests inundation (high lake levels) during 160 ± 50 AD, 970 ± 50 AD, 1190 ± 80 AD and 1520 ± 30 AD, respectively. These periods broadly coincide with the late Holocene strengthened Indian Summer Monsoon (ISM), Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and the early part of the Little Ice Age (LIA). The debris which clogged the course of the river in the vicinity of the Chandubi Lake is attributed to tectonically induced increase in sediment supply during high magnitude flooding events.


Shillong Plateau geomorphic indices Kulsi River channel migration Chandubi Lake Indian summer monsoon 



This study is part of WI’s Ph.D thesis. WI acknowledges Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, HRDG New Delhi for SRF-NET fellowship (file no: 09/420/(0002)/2012-EMR-I). The authors are thankful to Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehardun and Gauhati University, Assam for research facilities. WI is also thankful to Mr. Atul Sarma, Executive Engineer, Brahmaputra Board, Guwahati for providing river discharge data on Kulsi River and Mr. K K Deka, Forest Range Officer, Loharghat Forest Reserve for providing official reports on Chandubi Lake. The authors are also thankful to the two anonymous reviewers who helped to improve the manuscript substantially.


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© Indian Academy of Sciences 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wadia Institute of Himalayan GeologyDehradunIndia
  2. 2.Department of Geological SciencesGauhati UniversityGuwahatiIndia

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