Geomorphology & Environmental Geology


The Geomorphology and Environmental Geology Division envisages the study of landforms and their evolution in the Himalaya in conjunction with geodynamic processes, climatic changes, natural hazards and assessment of water resources including glacier dynamics and their implications on environment and society.

 Geomorphology and Environmental Geology in the Himalayan Context

The Himalayan mountain system embodies a rich set up of rock types and their structure, landforms, natural resources and a myriad of ecosystems which have attracted an enormous number of human population in its fold for living. This mountain chain can veritably be called as the natural laboratory for studying the endogenic and exogenic processes which ultimately led to its geodynamic evolution in the heartland of the Asian continent. The Quaternary landforms and sediments are being studied to establish the relationship between climate change and role of Quaternary tectonics. Mapping and understanding of tectonic landforms in different segments of the Himalaya is of paramount importance in understanding the behavior of individual active fault segments, rate of faulting, reconstruction of the history of large magnitude paleoearthquakes and their repeat time, etc.

Among the natural resources in the Himalaya snow, ice, lakes, rivers and groundwater are the rich source of water. While assessing the water reserves, declining discharge of springs, shrinking of lakes and glaciers besides pollution of pristine water sources of the Himalaya is of prime concern. Feared consequences of climate change on glaciers and resultant changes in the dynamics of water flow in the river and springs of the Himalaya and impact on society have urged the Group to mount new initiatives in the study of glaciers and water resources of the Himalaya. One of the new initiatives at the behest of the DST, Government of India is the establishment of Centre for Glaciology (CFG) at WIHG in 2008 which is entrusted with the addressing of two problems i.e. nature of glacier dynamics, and climate change studies.

Himalaya experiences several natural hazards, of which recurring landslides and mass movement alone cause colossal loss of life and property. Studies on various aspects of landslides are underway to understand the processes responsible for the initiation of landslides and the preparation of the landslide hazard zonation maps. These will be of help to demarcate possible landslide hazard zones and to model the behavior of slope under various conditions that will ultimately be a step forward towards mitigation of landslides to reduce the loss of life and property.

Palaeoclimatic studies are important in terms of climate change in the region and develop models for the future scenario to help the planning and mitigation of climate related hazards in the Himalaya. The palaeoclimatic analysis is a multiple database study and its signatures are preserved in the climate dependent parameters such as geological, biological, glaciological and historical records. The Group has been striving hard to reconstruct the late Quaternary climatic scenario in the Himalaya using multiple geological archives. Apart from general regional trend of the Himalaya in terms of its climatic attributes during the Quaternary sectoral influences on account of bio-climato-physical parameters need to be understood to unfold the environmental changes this gigantic mountain system has undergone.