Bedload-to-suspended load ratio and rapid bedrock incision from Himalayan landslide-dam lake record

Beth Pratt-Sitaula, Michelle Garde, Douglas W. Burbank, Michael Oskin, Arjun Heimsath, Emmanuel Gabet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


About 5400 cal yr BP, a large landslide formed a > 400-m-tall dam in the upper Marsyandi River, central Nepal. The resulting lacustrine and deltaic deposits stretched > 7 km upstream, reaching a thickness of 120 m. 14C dating of 7 wood fragments reveals that the aggradation and subsequent incision occurred remarkably quickly (∼ 500 yr). Reconstructed volumes of lacustrine (∼ 0.16 km3) and deltaic (∼ 0.09 km3) deposits indicate a bedload-to-suspended load ratio of 1:2, considerably higher than the ≤ 1:10 that is commonly assumed. At the downstream end of the landslide dam, the river incised a new channel through ≥ 70 m of Greater Himalayan gneiss, requiring a minimum bedrock incision rate of 13 mm/yr over last 5400 yr. The majority of incision presumably occurred over a fraction of this time, suggesting much higher rates. The high bedload ratio from such an energetic mountain river is a particularly significant addition to our knowledge of sediment flux in orogenic environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-120
Number of pages10
JournalQuaternary Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Bedload
  • Bedrock incision
  • Himalaya
  • Landslide dam
  • Nepal
  • Suspended load

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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