Integrating geochronologic and instrumental approaches across the Bengal Basin

Elizabeth L. Chamberlain*, Steven L. Goodbred, Richard Hale, Michael S. Steckler, Jakob Wallinga, Carol Wilson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Constraining time is of critical importance to evaluating the rates and relative contributions of processes driving landscape change in sedimentary basins. The geomorphic character of the field setting guides the application of geochronologic or instrumental tools to this problem, because the viability of methods can be highly influenced by geomorphic attributes. For example, sediment yield and the linked potential for organic preservation may govern the usefulness of radiocarbon dating. Similarly, the rate of sediment transport from source to sink may determine the maturity and/or light exposure of mineral grains arriving in the delta and thus the feasibility of luminescence dating. Here, we explore the viability and quirks of dating and instrumental methods that have been applied in the Bengal Basin, and review the records that they have yielded. This immense, dynamic, and spatially variable system hosts the world's most inhabited delta. Outlining a framework for successful chronologic applications is thus of value to managing water and sediment resources for humans, here and in other populated deltas worldwide. Our review covers radiocarbon dating, luminescence dating, archaeological records and historical maps, short-lived radioisotopes, horizon markers and rod surface elevation tables, geodetic observations, and surface instrumentation. Combined, these tools can be used to reconstruct the history of the Bengal Basin from Late Pleistocene to present day. The growing variety and scope of Bengal Basin geochronology and instrumentation opens doors for research integrating basin processes across spatial and temporal scales.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-74
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number1
Early online date19 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • Ganges–Brahmaputra Delta
  • geochronology
  • relative sea-level rise and subsidence
  • river channel avulsion
  • sedimentary basin evolution


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