Past Working Groups: Large Rivers

Li Phi Falls, Mekong River Courtesy by B.FINLAYSON

WG Chair:

Prof. Avijit Gupta
Leeds (United Kingdom)


Second IAG/AIG Yangtze Fluvial Conference
Shanghai, China, August 20-28, 2003

This is a follow up of the very successful Yangtze Fluvial Conference organized by the East China Normal University and the IAG/AIG Working Group on Large Rivers in 1999 that resulted in two special issues of Geomorphology in 2001 and 2002. Paper sessions for the Second Conference will be held in Shanghai, Chongqing and Wuhan with a choice of a field trip either on the upper Yangtze plateau or along the gorges. The Conference should provide a wonderful opportunity for diffusion of knowledge regarding large rivers and for travelling along a part of the Yangtze. A post-conference publication is being planned. The conference themes are based on river hydrology and engineering, monsoon rivers, hazards, and river management. The meeting will be English. For details of the conference and the First Circular please contact Professor Z. Chen of the East China Normal University, Shanghai, e-mail.

Avijit Gupta


The IAG/AIG Working Group on Large Rivers is organising a special session on extreme events and river basins at the IAG/AIG Regional Conference in Mexico, 27 October – 2 November 2003. The general theme of the Conference is “Geomorphic Hazards: Towards the prevention of disasters”. Papers and posters presented in the proposed special session should be on the role of large-scale events (floods, tectonics, volcanic eruptions, tropical cyclones, etc.) on water and sediment transfer and storage along valley slopes and river channels. Landforms and channel configurations shaped by such extreme events are also pertinent topics for this session.If you intend to present a paper or a poster in this session could you please contact Avijit Gupta (School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK. Email: This is for preparing a list of possible participants who should be kept informed regarding future developments.

Avijit Gupta & Steve Wells

The IAGWorking Group on Large rivers was formed at the 1997 IAG Meeting in Bologna. The objective of the Working Group were:

  • to provide a forum for discussing the complexities of large rivers;
  • to arrange field visits to a number of large rivers;
  • to organise relevant and quality publications.

Four conferences and field visits were arranged to meet these objectives:

  • Araguaia-Tocantins, Brazil, 1999;
  • Yangtze, China, 1999;
  • Mekong, Lao PDR, 2000;
  • Tokyo, Japan, 2001.

All three conferences and field visits were well attended. Three publications are being collated from papers given at these conferences and all should be in print by 2002, if not earlier, as special issues of Geomorphology and Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie.Furthermore, a symposium on large rivers has been planned for the next general meeting of the IAG/AIG in Tokyo in August 2001. More than 20 speakers are taking part in this symposium. A post-conference publication of at least a selection of these papers is expected.These working group meetings have not only encouraged the geomorphology community to think more in terms of large rivers, details of which are not very well represented in the literature, but have also maintained the international profile of the IAG/AIG. They have encouraged field participation along with paper presentation in a formal setting. Reports on these meetings have been published at intervals in various numbers of the IAG/AIG Newsletter.


Papers from the Yangtze conference are scheduled for publication in two special issues of the journal Geomorphology, one exclusively on the Yangtze and the other dealing with the rest of the selected papers. The Yangtze papers have already been guest-edited and are currently with one of the editors of the journal. The second special number should be at the same stage of preparation in another four weeks. A collection of papers on South and Central American rivers, arising out of the Araguaia conference is being organised for a special issue of Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie.A similar publication of selected papers from the IAG/AIG Tokyo Meeting is expected but the final decision will be taken after the symposium.


It is perhaps not incorrect to claim that all the objectives set out in the proposal for starting this group have been achieved. It has been a great pleasure to see the following evolve over time as the three conferences and field trips on large rivers took place:

  1. The coming together of a group of researchers working on various aspects of large rivers in different parts of the world;
  2. A renewed interest in large rivers because of interactions among colleagues;
  3. Opportunities provided to become familiar with and work on major rivers flowing through different types of terrain;
  4. The building up of teaching material such as case studies, maps and slides;
  5. The development of a set of publications to serve the community of geomorphologists

Undoubtedly there have been other benefits, but these should be sufficient to indicate that the decision taken by the IAG/AIG to establish this working group at Bologna was a correct and profitable one. I would like to thank the Executive Committee of the IAG/AIG for giving us this opportunity to educate ourselves.