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Tropical Geomorphology Avijit Gupta

Tropical Geomorphology 



Avijit Gupta

Centre for Remote Imaging, Sensing and Processing
National University of Singapore
and
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Wollongong, Australia


cambridge

university press

2011





   Although similar geomorphic processes take place in other regions, in the tropics these processes operate at different rates and with varying intensities. Tropical geomorphology therefore provides many new insights regarding geomorphic processes. This textbook describes both the humid and the arid tropics. It provides thoroughly up-to-date concepts and relevant case studies, and emphasises the importance of geomorphology in the management and sustainable development of the tropical environment, including climate change scenarios. The text is supported by a large number of illustrations, including satellite images. Student exercises accompany each chapter. The book highlights three areas: 

• Geology, landforms and geomorphic processes in the humid and arid tropics 

• Source-to-sink passage of water and sediment from the mountains to the sea 

• Anthropogenic alteration of natural geomorphic rates and processes, including climate change. Tropical Geomorphology is an ideal textbook for any course on tropical geomorphology or the tropical environment, and is also invaluable as a reference text for researchers and environmental managers in the tropics. 

Avijit Gupta is a Honorary Principal Fellow at the University of Wollongong, Australia and a Visiting Scientist at the Centre for Remote Imaging, Sensing and Processing, National University of Singapore. He was educated at Presidency College, Kolkata, and Johns Hopkins University. He has held university positions in India, the USA, Singapore and the UK. His research interests focus on fluvial geomorphology in the tropics, rivers with high-magnitude floods, large rivers, urban geomorphology and the application of remote sensing in geomorphology. Dr Gupta has served as a Committee Member of the International Geographical Union Commission on Measurement, Theory and Applications in Geomorphology (COMTAG) and the International Association of Geomorphologists (IAG). He is currently the Chair of the IAG Working Group on the Effect of Climate Change on Large Rivers and Deltas. He is a member of the American Geophysical Union, the Association of American Geographers, the Society of Sedimentary Geologists and the International Association of Hydrological Sciences. He is also a corresponding member of the Académie Royale des Sciences d’Outre-Mer, Belgium. He is on the editorial board of two journals on geomorphology. Dr Gupta has written eight books and over seventy research papers. He recently edited The Physical Geography of Southeast Asia (2005) and Large Rivers:€Geomorphology and Management (2007).


Contents
Part I  The tropical environment
1 Introduction 3
1.1 Geomorphology in the tropics 3
1.2 Traditional tropical geomorphology 7
1.3 Modernisation of tropical geomorphology 8
1.4 Structure of tropical geomorphology 9
1.5 Structure of the book 11
2 Geological framework of the tropical lands 13
2.1 Introduction 13
2.2 A brief introduction to plate tectonics 13
2.3 Major landforms across the tropics 20
2.4 Interrelationships: plate tectonics, landforms, erosion and sediment production 27
Questions 29
3 Tropical hydrology 31
3.1 The tropical climate: a brief review 31
3.2 Temperature 31
3.3 Wind circulation 32
3.4 Precipitation 34
3.5 Tropical disturbances 37
3.6 Miscellaneous factors 43
3.7 Water balance 44
3.8 Climate and geomorphology in the tropics 47
Questions 48
4 Erosion and land cover in the tropics 49
4.1 Erosion from tropical rainfall 49
4.2 Distribution of natural vegetation in the tropics 52
4.3 Tropical rain forests 52
4.4 Tropical deciduous forests, grasslands and deserts 55
4.5 Anthropogenic alteration of the tropical vegetation 57
Questions 58
Part II  Process geomorphology in the tropics
5 Weathering in the tropics 61
5.1 Introduction 61
5.2 Sub-processes of weathering: a brief review 63
5.3 Products of weathering 69
5.4 Weathering and vertical zonation 75
5.5 Pans and crusts 77
5.6 Effects of weathering 78
5.7 Tropics and weathering 80
Questions 81
6 Slopes:€forms and processes 82
6.1 Properties of a slope 82
6.2 Mass movement on hillslopes 84
6.3 Running water on hillslopes 93
6.4 Storage and transfer of surficial material on tropical slopes 94
6.5 A general description of tropical slopes 99
Questions 99
7 Rivers in the tropics 101
7.1 Components of a river system 101
7.2 Water in river channels 101
7.3 Sediment in river channels 104
7.4 Channel geometry 108
7.5 Channel network and nodes 119
7.6 River systems of the humid tropics 120
Questions 127
8 Alluvial valleys 129
8.1 Fluvial depositional environment 129
8.2 The alluvial valley 130
8.3 The channel alluvium 132
8.4 Bars 135
8.5 Floodplain 136
8.6 Terrace 139
8.7 Valley margins 140
8.8 Sediment transfer along the valley axis 141
Questions 141
9 Large rivers in the tropics 143
9.1 Introduction 143
9.2 Characteristics of a large river 143
9.3 The Amazon 147
9.4 The Zambezi 152
9.5 The Ganga–Brahmaputra system 155
9.6 The Mekong 164
9.7 The importance of major tropical rivers 169
Questions 169
10 The tropical coasts 170
10.1 Introduction 170
10.2 Types of coast 171
10.3 Moving water: tides, waves and currents 172
10.4 Rocky coasts 179
10.5 Non-rocky coast 181
10.6 Coastal sand dunes 186
10.7 Coastal tropics 186
10.8 Coral reefs 189
10.9 Tropical coasts and time 191
Questions 194
11 Deltas in the tropics 195
11.1 Introduction 195
11.2 Distribution of deltas in the tropics 196
11.3 Age and evolution of deltas 197
11.4 Delta morphology 201
11.5 Delta sediments and sedimentary structures 202
11.6 The Ganga–Brahmaputra Delta: a case study 203
11.7 Deltas in the tropics: a summary 207
Questions 208
12 The arid tropics 209
12.1 Arid areas 209
12.2 Geological characteristics of arid lands 210
12.3 Arid hydrology 211
12.4 Arid landforms 215
12.5 The rock desert 215
12.6 Running water in arid lands 216
12.7 Aeolian geomorphology of sandy areas 223
12.8 Conclusion 230
Questions 230
13 Tropical highlands 232
13.1 Importance of highlands 232
13.2 Glaciation in tropical mountains 234
13.3 Mechanics of mountain glaciation 236
13.4 Glacial forms and processes 240
13.5 Slopes and valley floors in high mountains 246
13.6 Rivers in the tropical mountains 247
13.7 Sediment from tropical mountains 249
13.8 Conclusion 251
Questions 252
14 Volcanic landforms 254
14.1 Introduction 254
14.2 Types of volcano and the related landscape 254
14.3 Lava and pyroclastic deposits 257
14.4 Volcaniclastic flows: debris avalanches and flows 262
14.5 Landscape on flood basalts 266
14.6 Conclusion 268
Questions 268
15 Tropical karst 270
15.1 Introduction to karst 270
15.2 Karst in the tropics: the geographical distribution 271
15.3 Karst hydrology 272
15.4 Dissolution of karst rocks 273
15.5 Karst landforms 274
15.6 Karst in the tropics 281
15.7 Tropical karst as an environment 284
Questions 286
16 Quaternary in the tropics 287
16.1 Introduction 287
16.2 History and structure of the Quaternary 288
16.3 Quaternary glaciation in the tropics 290
16.4 Climate change 292
16.5 Sea-level change 295
16.6 The Ganga River system: Quaternary adjustments 298
16.7 Quaternary changes around the Sunda Shelf 299
16.8 Conclusion 302
Questions 303
Part III Anthropogenic changes
17 Anthropogenic alteration of geomorphic processes in the tropics 307
17.1 The beginning 307
17.2 Deforestation, land use changes and rural migration 311
17.3 Temporal and seasonal patterns of sediment transport 314
17.4 Spatial transfer of sediment 315
17.5 Impoundments along rivers and their effects 319
17.6 Application of geomorphology towards a better environment 323
Questions 324
18 Urban geomorphology in the tropics 325
18.1 Introduction to urban geomorphology 325
18.2 Urbanisation in developing countries 328
18.3 Three examples of geomorphic hazards and their amelioration 330
18.4 The general nature of urban geomorphological problems 337
18.5 Geomorphology and urban management 338
Questions 341
19 The future with climate change 342
19.1 Climate change and the future 342
19.2 A robust prediction of the effects of climate change in the tropics 343
19.3 Geomorphological adjustments in the tropics from climate and sea-level changes 345
19.4 The noise effect of anthropogenic changes 346
19.5 Tropical geomorphology in the near future 347
Questions 348
References 349
Index 374

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