The Ganges River, one of the largest rivers on Earth, is a typical monsoonal and flood-controlled system but has low inter-annual peak discharge variability. The seasonal discharge can reach 70 000 m3 s−1 during the wet season but maintains a low base flow of 500–3000 m3 s−1 during the dry season. However, the constancy in peak discharge every year categorizes the lower Ganges River as a river with low inter-annual peak discharge variability. This paper examines the modern lower Ganges River by conducting a detailed process-oriented investigation of the main channel, channel margin and overbank deposits, supplemented by satellite image observation and comparison with other modern fluvial systems. The channel and braid bar deposits show a dominance of small-scale to medium-scale cross-sets, with a variety of accretion processes constructing braid bars. The braid bar and channel deposits are typical of facies models of rivers with low inter-annual peak discharge variance. In contrast, the channel flank deposits are dominated by planar lamination, massive sand and mud couplets, and some ripple cross-lamination, with very little cross-bedding. Characteristic channel margin deposits represent sediments that accumulated by high-speed flows, multiple-surge and rapidly depositing flows, rapid or regular waning flows and hyperconcentrated flows. The overbank deposits predominantly comprise current ripples with long, thin bedforms and soft sediment deformation structures, which record flow transformation on the muddy flat topography and the processes of an unstable river bank. Our study shows that the channel margin and floodplain deposits are entirely different from those of the braid bar and channel. The bedform distribution of the fluvial deposits here (main channel, channel margin and overbank) may be an important tool in the identification of similar seasonal rivers with low inter-annual peak discharge variance and in the interpretation of fluvial processes.

Supplementary material: The sediment texture and the depositional age is available at:

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