Journal of Geographic Information System

Volume 10, Issue 3 (June 2018)

ISSN Print: 2151-1950   ISSN Online: 2151-1969

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The Three Gorges Area and the Linking of the Upper and Middle Reaches of the Yangtze River

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DOI: 10.4236/jgis.2018.103016    700 Downloads   1,847 Views  Citations


The history of the Yangtze River is constituted by numerous river piracies that enabled the river to extend its drainage system. Two river captures are well recognized: the piracy of the Jinsha River (Jinshajiang) formerly tributary of the Red River at Shigu in Yunnan Province and the Three Gorges area that linked the upper and the middle Yangtze river reaches in Hubei province. The first one is well documented, while the second, because of difficulties to retrieve datable materials and the complexity of the area geomorphology, is still quite unknown. Numerous conflicting hypotheses have been formulated to explain the pattern of river piracy, no agreement exists on the location of the drainage divide and of the point of capture; chronologies extending from the Eocene to the late Quaternary are given. Geomorphic indices can be used to examine the geomorphological and tectonic processes responsible for the development of the drainage basins. In this paper, we analyzed drainage pattern, basin shape, basin asymmetry, stream junction angle to infer the drainage of the paleorivers that were pirated, and to propose a model of the pattern of river capture based on the importance of structure, tectonic and lithological controls in the area. We showed that the Three Gorges area has been very important to the history of the Yangtze river as the piracy of the upper and middle reaches enabled the river to reach its current extend.

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Wang, J. and Dembele, N. (2018) The Three Gorges Area and the Linking of the Upper and Middle Reaches of the Yangtze River. Journal of Geographic Information System, 10, 301-322. doi: 10.4236/jgis.2018.103016.

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