The Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta
Originating in the Himalayan Mountains within distinct drainage basins, the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers coalesce in the Bengal Basin in Bangladesh, where they form one of the world’s great deltas. The delta has extensive subaerial and subaqueous expression, and this paper summarizes the current knowledge of the Late Glacial to Holocene sedimentation from the upper delta plain to the continental shelf break. Sedimentation patterns in the subaerial delta are strongly influenced by tectonics, which has compartmentalized the landscape into a mosaic of subsiding basins and uplifted Holocene and Pleistocene terraces. The Holocene evolution of the delta also has been mediated by changing river discharge, basin filling, and delta-lobe migration. Offshore, a large subaqueous delta is prograding seaward across the shelf, and is intersected in the west by a major submarine canyon which acts both as a barrier for the further westward transport of the rivers’ sediment and as a sink for about a third of the rivers’ sediment discharge. Subaerial and subaqueous progradation during the Holocene has produced a compound clinoform, a feature which appears to be common for large rivers discharging onto an energetic continental shelf.