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Short communication: Massive erosion in monsoonal central India linked to late Holocene land cover degradation

Giosan, Liviu and Ponton, Camilo and Usman, Muhammed Ojoshogu and Blusztajn, Jerzy and Fuller, Dorian Q. and Galy, Valier and Haghipour, Negar and Johnson, Joel E. and McIntyre, Cameron and Wacker, Lukas and Eglinton, Timothy I. (2017) Short communication: Massive erosion in monsoonal central India linked to late Holocene land cover degradation. Earth Surface Dynamics, 5 (4). pp. 781-789. ISSN 2196-632X.

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Soil erosion plays a crucial role in transferring sediment and carbon from land to sea, yet little is known about the rhythm and rates of soil erosion prior to the most recent few centuries. Here we reconstruct a Holocene erosional history from central India, as integrated by the Godavari River in a sediment core from the Bay of Bengal. We quantify terrigenous fluxes, fingerprint sources for the lithogenic fraction and assess the age of the exported terrigenous carbon. Taken together, our data show that the monsoon decline in the late Holocene significantly increased soil erosion and the age of exported organic carbon. This acceleration of natural erosion was later exacerbated by the Neolithic adoption and Iron Age extensification of agriculture on the Deccan Plateau. Despite a constantly elevated sea level since the middle Holocene, this erosion acceleration led to a rapid growth of the continental margin. We conclude that in monsoon conditions aridity boosts rather than suppresses sediment and carbon export, acting as a monsoon erosional pump modulated by land cover conditions.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription
Blusztajn, Jerzy0000-0002-5475-1948
Additional Information:© 2017 Author(s). This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Published by Copernicus Publications on behalf of the European Geosciences Union. Received: 26 May 2017 – Discussion started: 20 June 2017. Revised: 23 October 2017 – Accepted: 30 October 2017 – Published: 1 December 2017. We thank colleagues from the NGHP-01 expedition for intellectual interactions leading to this work. We also thank Daniel Montlucon for assistance in producing lab data. This study was supported by grants from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the National Science Foundation (OCE-0841736 and OCE-0623766) and Swiss National Science Foundation (“CAPS LOCK” 200021-140850 and “CAPS-LOCK2” 200021-163162). The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Woods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionUNSPECIFIED
Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)200021-140850
Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)200021-163162
Issue or Number:4
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20180117-152652079
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Official Citation:Giosan, L., Ponton, C., Usman, M., Blusztajn, J., Fuller, D. Q., Galy, V., Haghipour, N., Johnson, J. E., McIntyre, C., Wacker, L., and Eglinton, T. I.: Short communication: Massive erosion in monsoonal central India linked to late Holocene land cover degradation, Earth Surf. Dynam., 5, 781-789,, 2017
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:84371
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:17 Jan 2018 23:50
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 19:17

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