An Integrated Approach for Constraining Depositional Zones in a Tide-Influenced River: Insights from the Gorai River, Southwest Bangladesh
The tidal to fluvial transition (TFT) of estuaries and coastal rivers is one of the most complex environments on Earth with respect to the transportation and deposition of sediment, owing in large part to competing fluvial and marine processes. While there have been recent advances in the stratigraphic understanding of the TFT, it is still unclear whether these findings are site-specific or representative of mixed tidal-fluvial systems worldwide. Yet, research from this depositional domain
... itional domain holds profound societal and economic importance. For instance, understanding the underlying stratigraphic architecture of channel margins is critical for assessing geomorphic change for fluvio-deltaic settings, which are generally vulnerable to lateral channel migration and resultant erosion. Findings would also benefit paleo-geographic reconstructions of ancient tide-influenced successions and provide an analog for hydrocarbon reservoir models. In the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta of Bangladesh, the Gorai River is one of two Ganges distributaries actively connected to the Bay of Bengal. With fluvial input from the Ganges and meso-scale (2–4 m range) tides at the coast, the Gorai exhibits a variety of hydrodynamic regimes across its 350-km reach, providing a unique opportunity to investigate along-channel depositional patterns across the TFT. This study integrates multiple datasets—core sedimentology, river channel bathymetry, and remote sensing—to provide a process-based framework for determining the relative position of sedimentary deposits within the tidal-fluvial continuum of the Gorai River. The results of this investigation reveal coincident, abrupt shifts in river channel morphology and sediment character, suggesting the occurrence of backwater-induced mass extraction of relatively coarse sediments (i.e., fine sand). Despite being situated in an energetic tidal environment, evidence of tidal cyclicity in cored sediments is relatively rare, and the bulk stratigraphy appears strongly overprinted by irregularly spaced cm- to dm-scale sediment packages, likely derived from monsoonal flood pulses. Such findings differ from previously-studied mixed tidal-fluvial systems and underscore the site-specific complexities associated with this depositional domain.