Scientists found palaeo-channel of lost Chandrabhaga River in Odisha

Scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur have claimed to discover evidence of lost river Chandrabhaga in Odisha.
Earlier, KS Valdiya led expert committee had found out that Saraswati River did exist and flowed through India and Pakistan before meeting Arabian Sea through Rann of Kutch.
Chandrabhaga River
It is an ancient mythical river believed to have existed at a distance of about two km from the 13th century Sun Temple at Konark (built by King Narasimhadeva I of Eastern Ganga Dynasty in 1255 CE.), a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Odisha. It has been mentioned prominently in ancient literature. Besides, almost all lore regarding Konark, including illustrations and photographs, indicate presence of the river in proximity of temple. However at present, no trace of any water body is at present visible in proximity of temple.
IIT study

  • The IIT study was conducted through an integrated geological and geophysical exploration in conjunction with historical evidence and analysis of satellite data.
  • Imagery from US’s Landsat and Terra satellites and those obtained by NASA Space Shuttle Endeavour’s Radar Topographic Mission in 2000 were also used.

What scientist found out?

  • The satellite imagery and Google Earth images showed a sinusoidal trace, characteristic of a typical palaeo-channel (remnants of an inactive river) passing north of the Sun Temple extending approximately parallel to the coast.
  • It was further corroborated through profiling the surface using ground penetrating radar that showed the existence of a V-shaped subsurface river valley.
  • Besides, field studies also revealed that palaeo-channel is characterised by swampy lands and geologically the area is covered with alluvium, a deposit characteristic of rivers.
  • Data also showed a low gravity anomaly zone along suspected palaeo-channel which is an indication of presence of low density sedimentary deposits along the depressed zone.

Significance of discovery
Identification of such a palaeo-channel of Chandrabhaga River may lead to the delineation of pockets of freshwater zones within a dominantly saline water environment in coastal Odisha. It may even partially help to alleviate the chronic drinking water problem along the Odisha coast.