Evolution of the Bengal Delta and Its Prevailing Processes

Jakia Akter, Maminul Haque Sarker, Ioana Popescu, Dano Roelvink

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29 Citations (Scopus)


Bangladesh, occupying low-lying floodplains and tidal plains, has one of the largest and the most disaster-prone populous deltas in the world. The Bengal Delta is a tide-dominated delta, where tides play the key role in the sediment dispersal process and in shaping the delta. There are many studies and reports on river-dominated deltas, but research is sparse on tide-dominated deltas. The Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers, which combined form one of the three largest riverine sources of water and sediment for the world's oceans, have developed the Bengal Delta to its present form with an aerial extent of 104 km2. About 1012 m3 of water with 109 tonnes of sediment per year make this system morphologically active. In the last five decades, the Bengal Delta has prograded at a rate of 17 km2/y, whereas most large deltas elsewhere in the world suffered from sediment starvation. Delta progradation always makes the river system unstable, and rapid changes cause the delta to become dynamic. Sea level rise induced by unequivocal climate change and subsidence would make the delta more vulnerable in the coming decades. Although some literature is available on the millennium-scale development process of the Bengal Delta, sound knowledge on the decade-to century-scale processes of the delta development for facing the threats of climate change and deltaic subsidence is limited. In addition, there are significant differences in opinions and widely varying findings in the literature to the response of the delta to different natural and human interventions. Against this backdrop, relevant available literature on Bengal Delta and deltas elsewhere in the world, is reviewed and evaluated to provide direction for future research that would help to form a way out of the present situation and a way into sustainable planning for this delta.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1212-1226
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Coastal Research: an international forum for the Littoral Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • delta progradation
  • River shifting
  • sedimentation
  • subsidence


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