Home Articles Geomorphological characterisation and landscape evolution in and around Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, India

Geomorphological characterisation and landscape evolution in and around Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, India

Sharad Chandra Dwivedi
Center for the study of Regional Development, School of Social Sciences, JNU, New Delhi, India
[email protected]

Dr. Pravin Kumar Prabhakar
Lecturer in Geography, Govt. Senior Secondary School, Patna, India

This paper attempts to determine the morphometric analysis of surface drainage that has been carried out in two micro-watersheds of Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. Detailed geological, geomorphological, hydrogeomorphological and morphometrical studies have been carried out for Gwalior and its adjoining areas by visual interpretation and GIS software techniques like ARCGIS 9.0 and ERDAS 8.9. The remote sensing data pertained to SPOT- I, HRV1, MLA, 1989 Geocoded data and IRS – 1D, LISS – III, PAN Merged data 2003 published by NRSA, Hyderabad and Survey of India topographical maps on 1:50000/1:250000 scale. The interpreted data was supplemented as well as cross checked by field visits to add minor details of lithounits and geological and geomorphological features. On the basis of these studies, various lithounits like Achaean and Gwalior’ sediments and alluvium were mapped. Geomorphological units, mainly of Denudational and fluvial origins, were represented by dissected pleateaus, pediplain, pediments and alluvium. Morphometric analysis of the surface drainage was carried out for the two micro-watersheds sonerekha and morar of Gwalior region. Through morphometric techniques, it was observed that various factors like geological structure, earth movements, climate, vegetation cover, drainage texture, frequency and mass movement were responsible for the changes in drainage pattern and formation of slope.

Geomorphic study defines drainage basin as the area which contributes water to a particular channel or a set of channels. It forms a convenient unit for considering the processes determining the formation of specific landscapes in various regions of the earth. It provides a limited unit of the earth’s surface within which basic climatic qualities can be measured and characteristics landforms observed.

Morphometry deals with the measurement and mathematical analysis of the configuration of the earth’s surface and of the shape and dimension of its landforms. This study focused on various morphometric parameters such as length, area, shape and form factors and analyses and interprets the evolutionary status of small watersheds and their hydrological condition through morphometric techniques, drainage characteristics and slope categories.

The main purpose of this study is to identify the geomorphic features and morphometric analysis of the study area and morphometric analysis with the help of remote sensing and GIS.

Study Area
The study area is situated between 26° 04′ N to 26° 21′ N and 78° 01′ E to 78° 20′ E. The area is surrounded by the district of Bhind in the north-east, Datia in the east, Shivpuri in the south, Seopur in the west and Morena in the north–west. The study region measures 576.5 sq. km. and falls in the Chambal river. The Survey of India (SOI) topographical sheets 54 J/3, 54 J/4, 54 J/7 & 54 J/8 are shown in fig 1.

Fig. 1. Location map of the study area

Aims and Objectives

The objectives of the study are:

  1. To identify the geomorphic unit along with the associated features
  2. To conduct a morphometric analysis of the drainage basin.

Materials and methods
The present study on geomorphology and geology has been carried out using time and cost effective remote sensing techniques. Satellite data pertained to SPOT- I, HRV1, MLA, 1989 Geocoded data and IRS – 1D, LISS – III, PAN Merged data 2003 published by NRSA, Hyderabad and Survey of India (1971) topographical maps on 1:50000/1:250000 scale.

Morphometric analysis of the area was done with the help of different software like ARCGIS 9.0 and EARDAS 8.9. Visual interpretation techniques were applied for delineating different landforms and geomorphic features in the study area. Limited field checks were carried out in the district. Ground inputs were incorporated in the geomorphological map prepared from IRS-1D, LISS-III.

Result and discussion
This paper presents the landforms and drainage morphometry of and around Gwalior. Remote sensing and GIS data were used to carry out geological, geomorphological and morphometric analysis of the study area.

Litho units
Geologically, the Gwalior region is famous as the oldest rocks of Indian stratiography are exposed in this region (fig 2 and table 1). These areas are occupied by major litho units (M.P. District Gazetteer, 1965) are as follows:-

Archean 50.75 sq. km (approax)
Gwalior Groups 57.13 sq. km (approax)
Upper Vindhyan Groups 95.29 sq.km (approax)
Recent Alluvium 373.33 sq. km (approax)

Fig. 2. Geological Map

Table 1: – Regional Stratiagraphic sequences of Study Area (After, Dave 1968)

  1. Archean Groups
    The Archeans are the oldest formation represented by Bundelkhand Genesis and Granite. The genesis in the scarp is highly decomposed and foliation. It is composed of red feldspar, quartz, mica. The Bundelkhand Granites are exposed to the south east of Gwalior.
  2. Gwalior Groups
    The middle protozoic formation deposited over the Bundelkhand massif along north western margin is known as Gwalior. The outcrop of Gwalior Group occupies an area of about 80 km. long and 23-30 km. width. The Gwalior Group is characterized by two formations like:-
    1. Par Formation
      The Par Formation owes its name to the village Par, about 20 km., south of Gwalior. On the top of the Par, thin beds of limestone alternated by siliceous beds and massive quartzite. (Plate 1 &3)
    2. Morar Formation
      Morar Formation owes its name to Morar River, which flows through Gwalior town. The Morar Formation consists of siliceous and ferruginous shale. The white and red colored shale are exposed behind Govt. Sc. College at Gwalior.(Plate 9).
  3. Upper Vindhyan Group
    The Bundelkhand Granites are directly overlain by the thick sedimentary sequence of upper Vindhyan Group. They belong to the Vindhyan Super Group, mountain to the north of Narmada valley, and are an exposed over an area of about 104,400 sq. km.
  4. Recent Alluvium
    The deposition of the river basin and valley belong to the recent alluvium formation. Southern tract of the area covered with the alluvium, which is derived from weathering of Kaimur Sandstones. It includes the area covered of younger sediments except the recent alluvium. Alluvium mostly consists of layer of sand, kankar, and loam of varying thickness.

Geomorphic units
The Gwalior to consist of three parts of geomorphic landforms viz: – denudational, depositional and structural. It has been sub-divided in various minor landforms. Geomorphological units presented in the figure 3 and table 4.

Figure 3: – Geomorphology Map

Table 2:- Geological, Geomorphological and Hydro-geomorphological units of the area

1 Denudational landforms

1.1 Denudational hills (DNH) (VS) (Vindhyan Sediments)
The forms of the hills are due to weathering, mass movement, erosional processes that result in the progressive lowering to the earth’s surface is denudational hills. Most of these hills covered by vegetation and carry a thinner soil cover. These zones provide a moderate to poor groundwater potential. They occurs in the central northern and north western part of the Gwalior, in main Village like Antri, Raipur, Par, Bhadhaoli, Baragaon etc.

2 Depositional Landforms

2.1 Alluvial plain
The formation of these plains by river on the time of floods, on an alluvium is deposited on large-scale and it becomes a plain. It occurs on both sides (North east and South-east sides) like Morar and Sonerekha Rivers. It is good for agriculture.

2.2 Pediments (P)
Concave slope, waning slope and surface of low relief, partially covered by a skin of rock debris, which is concave-upward slope at low angle. The upper part is eroded surface; it is characterized by very gentle slope covered with weathered product of granite and soil.

2.3 Lineaments (L)
A large scale, linear feature of tectonic or other structural origin, visible at the land surface; it may be fault, fracture zones etc. Majors fault and fractures, is very useful in hard work areas.

Maximum number of lineaments delineated on north east direction. The lineaments in sandstone are represented by fractures, joint and faults. Two major lineaments are Trighra to Amara villages and Trighra to Gupteshwar villages.

3 Structural Landforms

3.1 Pleatue (PT)
An upland area with an extensive, almost level summit, which is frequently bounded by steep margins of escarpments. The western part is mostly covered by pleatue area composed of sandstone. It is elevated flat upland, sloping and very hard and compact in nature, bounded by escarpment/ steep slopes on all sides. Ground water occurrence is moderate to good.

Hydro-geomorphological zones

1 Hydro geomorphology and Ground water prospect
The area has been delineated into five categories of ground water prospect zones: – excellent, very good, good, moderate and poor.

The details of these zones are as follows: –

1.1 Excellent ground water prospect zones
Alluvial plain (AP), which comprises of unconsolidated material like sand, gravel etc. constitute this zones. Good permeability of the alluvial materials is responsible for high yield of ground water.

1.2 Very good to good ground water prospect zones
Very good ground water prospect zones are comprised of the pediplain of pleatue litho units which is a shallow to moderately weathered zone where as the good ground water prospect zones is restricted along the courses of the Morar and Sonerekha rivers.

1.3 Moderately ground water prospect zones
This zones occurs in the central part of the area which consisting of deeply weathered dissected pleatue. Dissected pleatue of Antri forest area, Raipur forest area etc. are not very good ground water prospect zones neither bad.

1.4 Poor ground water potential zone
The ravines area around Gwalior city region and moderately weathered dissected pleatue constitutes the poor ground water prospects zones. These zones occupying the southern and southern western region

Drainage Morphometry
Morphometry incorporate quantitative study of the area, altitude, and volume, and slope, profile of the land and drainage basin characteristics of the area concerned (Savindra Singh, 1972).

It has two branches:-

  1. Relief Morphometry.
  2. Fluvial Morphometry.

Quantitative analysis of watershed Morphometry
The major watersheds of Gwalior lies in the water resources region “`’ 2 ??’ (The Ganger River System). This region is sub divided into 4 basin and the study area falls into ‘ 2C ‘ (The Yamuna River Basin). Study area covered the two minor watershed, which is 2C3B4 (Morar), and 2C3E6 (Sonerekha).

Morphometric parameters
Morphometry is these measurement and mathematical analysis of configuration of the earth’s surface and the shape and dimension of the landforms (Clarke, 1966). Morphometric variables have been determined to delineate the shape, size and channel network of the drainage basin.

1 Linear aspects

1.1 Stream order
Stream ordering is the process of identification of the link in a stream network. Horton (1932, 1945), led to the development of law of drainage composition and Stahler, (1964) suggested the stream ordering system.

On the basis of these systems, the stream order analysis of Morar, and Sonerekha river basin, which fall under the area of investigation? In area Morar watersheds are 6th order stream and Sonerekha are the 5th order stream covered in the study area. (table 3)

Table 3: Linear Properties of Watersheds Basin Morphometry of Gwalior

1.2 Stream number
The count of stream channels in each order is known as stream numbers. According to Horton’s law (1945) of stream numbers, “the numbers of streams of different order in a given drainage basin tend to closely to approximate as inverse geometric sequences with the order number.

In present study the total number of stream in Morar and Sonerekha are 544 and 200 respectively (table 3).

1.3 Stream length
Horton (1945), in his law of stream length, total length of stream segment of each of the successive orders of the basin trend to approximate a direct geometric series. The total length of stream channel of Morar and Sonerekha is 378.54 and 121.16 km² respectively (table 3), which reveals the size of the components of the drainage lines.

1.4 Bifurcation ratio
This is the ratio between the total numbers of stream of one order to that of the next higher order in a drainage basin (Schumn, 1956). The irregularities of the bifurcation ratio from one order to the next order which is mainly dependent upon the lithological and geological development of the drainage basin, (Stahler, 1964).

Bifurcation ratio is defined as a ratio between number of streams of a given order (Nu) to the number of stream of the next higher order (Nu + 1) it is expressed by the following equation:

Nu = Numbers of streams of a given order,
Nu + 1 = Number of streams of a next higher order.

Using Strahler’s method, the Rb has been calculated for each basin which reveals the bifurcation ratio of Morar river (2.0 – 4.02) and Sonerekha (2.00 – 5.06) respectively (table 3). The above ratio show the value of 2 to 3, the shapes of the basin are flat on rolling and for values, 3 to 4 the shape of the basin are mountainous or highly dissected.

1.5 Length of overland flow
According to Horton’s (1945) the length of overland flow is one of the important characteristics, which affects the hydrological and topographical development of the basin. It is expressed as following equation:-

Lg = Length of overland flow in km.
A = Area of basin in sq. km.
L = Total length of stream in km.

In the area the length of overland flow values are 0.741 km. (Morar River Basin) and 0.40 (Sonerekha river basin) (table 3).

2 Ariel aspect

2.1 Drainage Area
All streams flow originating the discharged through a simple out let in order to obtain the catchments area. Thus, the catchments area can be measured by calculating the area endorsed the surface water divide.

2.2 Drainage density
According to Horton’s (1945), the drainage density gives the total number of the stream within a basin area per unit and it is expressed as length of stream per unit’s area.

Dd = Drainage density per km.
L = Total length of all channels segments of a basin in km.
Ad = Total area of the basin in sq. km.

The drainages densities of Morar and Sonerekha River basin are 1.246 and 1.232/sq. km respectively (Table 4). The low drainage density value indicates the late mature of the old stage and gentle slope of the study area.

Table 4: Ariel properties of watersheds Basin Morphometry of Gwalior

2.3 Stream frequency
The stream frequency or channel frequency has been defined as the number of streams per unit area. According to Horton’s (1945), a large basin may contain as many fingertip tributaries per unit area as a small drainage basin.

Fs = Stream frequency
Ns = Total number of stream,
A = Basin area in sq. km.

The values of stream frequencies are 3.187 and 3.256/sq. km. of the Morar and Sonerekha respectively (table 3.3). The value of stream frequency indicates that the basin possesses a low relief and flat topography.

2.4 Drainage texture
Drainage texture is defined as the “relative spacing of the drainage lines”. Horton’s (1945) defined drainage texture is number of stream per unit area. The term drainage texture must be used to indicative relative spacing of the stream in a per unit area along a linear direction. The following formula expressed as:-

p¹, p², p³ and P´= Number of intersections between the stream network and grid square edges.

Drainage texture is varies from the spacing between two streams. The drainage texture of Morar and Sonerekha are 0.244 and 0.267 respectively (table 3.3).

2.5 Lemniscate’s
Chorley et. Al. (1957) expressed the term lemniscates is based upon the expression of basin with lemniscate’s curve. It is denoted by symbol ‘K ‘ and expressed by formula.

Lb = Basin length in km.
A = Basin area in sq. km..

The lemniscate’s value of watersheds have been calculated and shown in Table 4, which shows that the basin occupies the maximum area in its regions of inception with large number of streams of higher order (Table 4).

2.6 Circulatory ratio
The circulatory ratio of a basin to the area of a circle having the same parameter as the basin. It is also a dimensionless index to indicate the form of outline of drainage basins (Stahler, 1964). The ratio is influenced by the length and frequency of streams. It is expressed as.

Rc = Circulatory Ratio,
A = Area of basin in sq. km.
P = Perimeter of the basin in km.

The circulatory ratio of Morar, and Sonerekha river basin observed to be 0.414, and 0.597 respectively (table 4).1 indicates the circular form of watersheds and > 1 indicates the formation of watersheds is not a circular but converted in elongated shape.

2.7 Form factor
According to Horton (1932), form factor defines the ratio between the basin area and square of the basin length. It expresses an idea of the width and shape of the basin, its profile and channel dimension. It is obtained by using following formula;

Rf = Form Factor
A = Area of the drainage basin in square km.
Lb = Basin length in km.

In this study area, the form factor of river basin in Morar is 0.342, and Sonerekha is 0.354 respectively (table 4). It reveals those basins are elongated in shape.

2.8 Elongation ratio
The elongation ratio is an indicative of the shape of river basin. Schumn (1956), elongation ratio is defined as the ratio of the diameter of a circle having the same area as the basin and the maximum basin length.

Re = Elongation Ratio
A = Area of basin in square km.
Lb = Length of basin in km.

Computed value of the elongation ratio 0.467 for Morar and Sonerekha 0.672 (Table 4). The different value of the elongation ratio real that the basin under study represents area of low relief.

4 Slope analysis:
Slopes aspect and altitude are important terrain parameters from land utilization point of view. In the measurement and calculation of slope angle, appropriate method used by went worth, this is known as went worth’s methods. In determining the average slope of the drainage area, the area is sub-divided into a number of square grids of equal size. To calculate the average slope, went worth has been used following formulas:-

N = Number of contour crossing per km. area
I = Contour interval in meters

Fig. 4. Slope analysis of the study area

The value of slope angle derived from each grid square of the area are tabulated and classified into slope categories (Table 5 and figure)

  1. There is very slightly a difference in 2nd and 3rd categories that is not possible to present to each contours or every slopes because limited contours interval (40 meter) and scale limitations.
  2. Flat areas are not totally flat, but their variation between two points is low according to their contour intervals.
  3. Higher variation in 5th and 6th slope categories, it means that the slope is much steeper than other slopes in a grid. The highest slope angle is 14°30′.

Table 5: Slope analysis by Wenthworth’s method


  1. In the study area the southern part and city region is relatively more flat and shows very gentle slopes towards northeast direction.
  2. The northern part of the study area constitutes the major watersheds having northward and southward slopes. The area is highly dissected by streams and tributaries. It shows high slope percentage and is classified into 5th categories of the slopes.
  3. Morar and Sonerekha River are the sixth and fifth order streams respectively. Elongation ratio shows that Morar possess elongated shape pattern. This study shows that the youthful to mature stage of geomorphic development.

Fig 5: – Plots of Morar Watershed 2C3B4 (Altemetric scale)

Fig 6: -Plots of Morar Watershed 2C3B4 (Logarithmic scale)

Fig 7:- Plot of Sonerekha Watershed 2C3E6 (Altemetric scale)

Fig 8:- Plot of Sonerekha Watershed 2C3E6 (Logarithmic scale)

I am thankful to Dr. Padmini Pani, CSRD, JNU, New Delhi for his guidance and suggestion in completing my work and Dr. Milap Chand Sharma for the special help to providing remote sensing data. Using the remote sensing and GIS techniques, I am thankful to Chairman Dr. Rajesh Sexena, Senior Scientist G.D.Bhairagi, supervision under the Senior Scientist Dr. Hari Natrajan in the field of hydrology and Scientist Dr. Niranjan Sharma, MAPCOST, Bhopal for providing valuable support during data collection and analysis of present work.


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