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Prioritization of sub-basins based on geomorphology and morphometricanalysis using remote sensing and geographic informationsystem (GIS) techniques
Kumar Avinash
a a b

, K.S. Jayappa & B. Deepika

EEZ Mapping Group, National Centre for Antarctic & Ocean Research, Vasco-da-Gama, 403804, India

Department of Marine Geology, Mangalore University, Mangalore, 574 199, India Available online: 27 Jul 2011

To cite this article: Kumar Avinash, K.S. Jayappa & B. Deepika (2011): Prioritization of subbasins based on geomorphology and morphometricanalysis using remote sensing and geographic informationsystem (GIS) techniques, Geocarto International, 26:7, 569-592 To link to this article:

Geocarto International Vol. 26, No. 7, November 2011, 569592

Prioritization of sub-basins based on geomorphology and morphometric analysis using remote sensing and geographic information system (GIS) techniques
Kumar Avinasha,b*, K.S. Jayappab and B. Deepikab
EEZ Mapping Group, National Centre for Antarctic & Ocean Research, Vasco-da-Gama 403 804, India; bDepartment of Marine Geology, Mangalore University, Mangalore 574 199, India (Received 3 November 2010; nal version received 17 July 2011) Geomorphology and drainage characteristics of the Gurpur river basin have been studied using satellite images, topographic maps and geographic information system (GIS) techniques. Geomorphology and morphometric parameters have been used to prioritize the sub-basins (SB-I to -VII) and identify the most decit/ surplus zones of groundwater. The study reveals that 8% (SB-VII) to 85% (SB-II) area of the geomorphic units have poor to moderate groundwater prospect. About 16% (SB-V) to 92% (SB-VII) area were estimated as good to excellent zones for groundwater potential. Bifurcation ratio results show that geomorphic control predominates over structural control in the development of drainage network. Computed values of stream frequency of SB-II, SB-III and SB-VI indicate steep ground slopes, with less permeable rocks, while drainage density indicates that the river basin is moderately permeable. Sub-basin-wise prioritization reveals that SB-II is the most decit zone, while SB-VII is found to be surplus zone of groundwater potential. Keywords: morphometric parameters; drainage characteristics; hydrogeomorphology; prioritization; Gurpur river basin; India



Land and water resources are gradually depleting due to rapid increase in population, urbanization and industrialization. The demand has increased tremendously for these resources; hence, optimal utilization of them is essential for sustainable development. In India, about 175 6 106 ha of land (i.e. about 53% area) is subjected to soil erosion due to deforestation and other forms of land degradation due to natural processes and anthropogenic activities (Biswas et al. 1999). Drainage basins are the fundamental units to understand geometric characteristics of uvial landscape, such as topology of stream networks, and quantitative description of drainage texture, pattern, shape and relief characteristics (Obi Reddy et al. 2004, Subba Rao 2009). Morphometric analysis is an important technique to evaluate and understand the behaviour of hydrological system. It provides quantitative specication of basin geometry to understand initial slope or

*Corresponding author. Email:;

ISSN 1010-6049 print/ISSN 1752-0762 online 2011 Taylor & Francis


K. Avinash et al.

inconsistencies in rock hardness, structural controls, recent diastrophism, geological and geomorphic history of drainage basin (Strahler 1964, Esper Angillieri 2008). Morphometric studies of a river basin comprise discrete morphologic region and have special relevance to drainage pattern and geomorphology (Strahler 1957, Dornkamp and King 1971). Prioritization is very important to prepare a comprehensive basin management and conservation plan. Several studies have been carried out on prioritization of subbasins based on morphometric analysis, geomorphology and sediment yield index (SYI) (Krishnamurthy et al. 1996, Biswas et al. 1999, Khan et al. 2001, Srinivasa et al. 2008, Suresh et al. 2004, Nookaratnam et al. 2005, Thakkar and Dhiman 2007, Javed et al. 2009). A study by Mesa (2006) reveals that geology, relief and climate are the primary causes of running water ecosystems at the basin scale. Subba Rao (2009) has attempted to dene how the numerical scheme is helpful in watershed development planning programmes. In the present study, geomorphology and morphometric parameters have been used to evaluate the Gurpur river basin (Figure 1). Basin geomorphology has been mapped and interpreted based on lithological characteristics, and the area of each geomorphic unit has been quantied. Quantitative analyses of the basin characteristics have been computed from the linear, areal and relief morphometric parameters, using the established mathematical equations (Table 1). Finally, sub-basin-wise prioritization was executed to determine the decit and surplus zones of groundwater, based on the weightage of geomorphological and morphometric parameters. 2. Area of study

Gurpur river basin is located on the western side of Sahyadri (the Western Ghats), which is a great escarpment produced by denudation along the rifted continental margin. The river originates near Kudremukh on the western slope of the Western Ghats at an altitude of *1870 m. It runs for a distance of *80 km in southwest direction and ows southward parallel to the coast for *8 km before merging with Netravati river and debouching into the Arabian sea near Mangalore. The drainage basin extends from 128520 to 138110 N latitudes and 748480 to 758170 E longitudes in

Figure 1.

Map showing the location of Gurpur river basin of southern Karnataka, India.

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Table 1. The formulae used for computation of various morphometric parameters.


Morphometric parameters Linear parameters Length (L) Stream order (u) Stream length (Lu) Mean stream length (Lsm)

Formula L 1.312A0.568 where L Basin length (km) A Area of the basin (km2) Hierarchical rank Length of the stream Lsm Lu/Nu where Lsm Mean stream length Lu Total stream length of order u Nu Total no. of stream segments of order u RL Lu/Lu71 where RL Stream length ratio Lu Total stream length of order u Lu7l The total stream length of its next lower order Rb Nu/Nu 1 where Rb Bifurcation ratio Nu Total no. of stream segments of order u Nul Number of segments of the next higher order Rbm Average of bifurcation ratios of all orders Ff A/L2 where Ff Form factor A Area of the basin (km2) L Basin length (km) Re 1.128A/L where Re Elongation ratio A Area of the basin (km2) L Basin length (km) Rc 4pA/P2 where Rc Circularity ratio p 3.14 A Area of the basin (km2) P Perimeter (km) Bs L2/A where Bs Shape factor L Basin length (km) A Area of the basin (km2) Cc 0.2821 P/A0.5 where Cc Compactness coecient P Perimeter (km) A Area of the basin (km2) Dd Lu/A where Dd Drainage density Lu Total stream length of all orders A Area of the basin (km2)

Reference Nookaratnam et al. (2005) Strahler (1964) Horton (1945) Strahler (1964)

Stream length ratio (RL)

Horton (1945)

Bifurcation ratio (Rb)

Schumm (1956)

Mean bifurcation ratio (Rbm) Areal parameters Form factor (Ff)

Strahler (1957)

Horton (1932, 1945)

Elongation ratio (Re)

Schumm (1956)

Circularity ratio (Rc)

Miller (1953), Strahler (1964)

Shape factor (Bs)

Horton (1932)

Compactness co-ecient (Cc) Drainage density (Dd)

Gravelius (1914)

Horton (1932, 1945)


Table 1. (Continued ).

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Morphometric parameters Stream frequency (Fs)

Formula Fs SNu/A where Fs Stream frequency SNu Total no. of streams of all orders A Area of the Basin (km2) T Dd 6 Fs where T Drainage texture Dd Drainage density Fs Stream frequency C 1/Dd where C Constant of channel maintenance Dd Drainage density Lo 1/2Dd where Lo Length of overland ow Dd Drainage density RH7h where R Basin relief H Maximum elevation in meter h Minimum elevation in meter Rr R/L where Rr Relief ratio R Basin relief L Longest axis in kilometre Rn R 6 Dd where Rn Ruggedness number R Basin relief Dd Drainage density Gr (a 7 b)/L where Gr Gradient ratio a Elevation at source b Elevation at mouth L Longest axis in kilometre

Reference Horton (1932, 1945)

Drainage texture (T)

Horton (1945)

Constant of channel maintenance (C) Length of overland ow (Lo) Relief parameters Basin relief (R)

Schumm (1956)

Horton (1945)

Hadley and Schumm (1961) Schumm (1956)

Relief ratio (Rr)

Ruggedness number (Rn) Gradient ratio (Gr)

Schumm (1956)

Sreedevi et al. (2005)

Dakshina Kannada and part of Udupi districts, covering an area of *837 km2 (Figure 1). The river delivers 2822 6 106 m3/yr of water and 0.105 6 106 m3/yr of sediments into the sea (Avinash Kumar et al. 2010a). It is a sixth-order river with a total length of *88 km, and its beds consist of cobblepebblegravel at its upper reaches and coarse sand in middle as well as lower parts. 2.1. Physiography and climate

Physiographically, the river basin can be divided into three well-dened units, viz. hill ranges, midland and lowland. The altitude drops from 1870 m to 100 m within a span of *12 km. The gradient of the entire river varies from 18 to 1.58 (21.16 m/km), and the channels are anked by thin gravelly terraces; therefore, lower reaches of this river get ooded during heavy discharges (Avinash Kumar et al. 2010a). Consequently, the terraces have capping of overbank ne sand, silt and mud. The

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river has been cut into bedrocks, and the terraces are covered by overbank sediments. The low-elevation undulating coastal belt has a rugged topography as evidenced by at-topped lateritic mesas cut by deep valleys. The study area experiences a tropical climate marked by heavy rainfall, high humidity and hot weather conditions in summer. Temperature decreases (mean daily is 5298C) with the onset of southwest monsoon (JuneSeptember) and increases with the retreat of monsoon. The average annual rainfall is *3900 mm, of which about 80% is received during the southwest monsoon and the remainder during the northeast (OctoberDecember) and inter-monsoon months (Avinash Kumar et al. 2010b). 2.2. Geology and tectonics Geologically, the Gurpur river basin constitutes Archaean to Proterozoic and metabasites (*46 km2, i.e. *5.5%) of Bababudan Group in the scarp region of Western Ghats (Abbas et al. 1991, Radhakrishna and Vaidyanadhan 1994). South Kanara Granite (*158 km2, i.e. *19%) and Archaean age of Peninsular Gneissic Complex such as migmatitic (banded/streaky) gneisses (*519 km2, i.e. *62%) are present in the northern portion and southern/middle portions of the basin, respectively (Figure 2). Other rock formations such as chloritic phyllite and

Figure 2. Geological map showing distribution of lithology and rock types of the Gurpur basin (after resource map of Udupi and Dakshina Kannada Districts, Karnataka, compiled by Geological Survey of India, 1991).


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quartzite (51 km2 each) of Bababudan Group, and amphibolite (*2 km2) and charnockite (*7 km2) of Sargur group/granulites of higher metamorphic grades are distributed mainly in the middle and upper parts of the basin, where several dolerite and norite dikes intersect with each other. Tertiary laterite (*90 km2, i.e. *11%) and coastal sand (*12 km2, i.e. *1.5%) formations are found in the coastal area. Tectonically, the Gurpur river basin is active due to its proximity to MulkiPulicat lake axis (a straight line close to 138N connecting west and east coasts of India) and the presence of a number of seismically active faults/lineaments. This neotectonic activity has been validated in our earlier study (Avinash Kumar et al. 2010a). A slight deviation of the drainage divided from the fault line can be ascribed to dierential headward erosion of north-easterly and south-easterly owing rivers (Subrahmanya 1994). 3. Methodology

The Gurpur basin has been delineated using Survey of India (SOI) topographical maps (No. 48 L/13, 48 O/4, 48 O/8 and 48 P/1 of 1:50,000 scale) of 1967 edition and Indian Remote Sensing Satellite (IRS) P6 and Linear Imaging Self-Scanner (LISS-III, 23.5 m resolution) images of 2008. The satellite images were georeferenced using more than 50 ground control points (GCPs), distributed uniformly across the Gurpur basins, and carefully selected both on the IRS images and topographic maps using ERDAS Imagine v. 9.1 software to derive a polynomial transformation of the rst (ane) order. The overall accuracy of the transformation, expressed as the root mean square error (RMSE) for geo-referenced images, was 50.5 pixel. After geo-referencing in geographic (lat/long) projection, a nearest neighbour interpolation method (as no change occurs in pixel values) was used to rectify and resample the images into a Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) projection, WGS 84, Zone 43 North. The geo-coded satellite images were enhanced using the digital enhancement techniques such as linear/contrast stretching, edge enhancement, ltering, band-ratioing and colour compositing. Based on tone, texture, shape, shadow and colour of enhanced images, drainage, lithology and hydrogeomorphic units were delineated and updated. Geomorphology of the basin has been interpreted based on lithological characteristics using soil, geology and SOI topographic maps as well as the satellite images in geographic information system (GIS) environment. Visually interpreted geomorphic units were mapped and quantitatively estimated at sub-basin level (Table 2, Figure 3). The basin area has been classied into eight major geomorphic units such as structural hills (SHs), pediment (PD), residual hills (RHs), inselbergs (I), lateritic uplands (LUs), pediplain, piedmont plain (PP) and ood plain (FP), which have been used to demarcate the surplus/decit zones of groundwater. Drainage and contour layers of the whole basin have been extracted by digitizing the SOI topographic maps using ArcGIS v. 9.1 software. Drainage layer was further updated with linearly stretched and edge-enhanced False Colour Composite (FCC) of LISS-III images. Seven sub-basins (SB-I to SB-VII) have been delineated based on the drainage characteristics and relief variability (Figure 4). Drainage networks were analysed as per the laws of Horton (1945), and the stream ordering was carried out using Strahlers stream order method (Strahler 1964). The triangular irregular network (TIN) was generated by interpolating the digitised SOI contours (at 20 m interval), and further, the TIN map was used to generate the height and slope maps

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Table 2. Quantication of sub-basin-wise areal coverage (in terms of %) of various geomorphic units and their prospects for groundwater. Geomorphic units Structural hills (SHs) Pediment (PD) Residual hills (RHs) Inselbergs (I) Lateritic uplands (LUs) Shallow weathered pediplain (PPS) Moderately weathered pediplain (PPM) Peidmont plain (PP) Flood plain (FP) Water prospect Poor Good Poor Poor Moderate Moderate Good Good Excellent SB-I (%) 11.3 2.4 3.6 5.1 0 47.8 11.4 2.9 15.5 SB-II (%) 35.3 8.5 3.8 4 0 41.9 0.6 0 6.0 SB-III (%) 39.1 10.5 2 0.9 0 34.8 1.7 0.02 10.9 SB-IV (%) 0 0 0 4.9 0.7 33.3 27.9 11.0 22.3 SB-V (%) 0 0 0 9.5 0.03 74.7 0.3 0 15.4 SB-VI (%) 0 0 0 2.4 1 23 39.1 0 34.5 SB-VII (%) 0 0 0 0.2 0 8 36.8 0 54.9

Figure 3.

Map showing distribution of dierent hydrogeomorphic units in the Gurpur basin.

using 3D analyst tool of ArcGIS. Various morphometric parameters (linear, areal and relief) of the sub-basins were calculated using established mathematical equations (Table 1). Finally, sub-basin-wise prioritization was carried out by assigning the weightage of each geomorphic unit and morphometric parameter. The steps followed for prioritization are discussed in Section 4.3.


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Figure 4.

Drainage map showing sub-basin-wise various stream orders of the Gurpur basin.


Results and discussion

Geomorphology and morphometric parameters are useful for drainage network analysis, which provide information concerning lithology, hydrological nature, drainage characteristics and exogenic/endogenic processes within the basin. Various types of drainage patterns such as dendritic, trellis, rectangular, barbed and braided are identied in the basin. Dendritic to sub-dendritic type of drainage is the most common in the study area due to the presence of homogeneous lithological units like gneisses and charnockites. Dendritic drainage pattern denotes nonexistence of structural control and gentle to moderate slope. Based on drainage characteristics and stream numbering, the Gurpur river basin has been classied as sixth-order basin. Various geomorphic units and morphometric parameters (linear, areal and relief) were evaluated to understand the groundwater potential for each sub-basin. The details of these parameters are discussed below.

4.1. 4.1.1.

Geomorphic characteristics Structural hills (SHs)

SHs are found in the easternmost part of the basin mainly in SB-I, SB-II and SBIII. They consist of iron ore group of rocks and are controlled with complex folding, faulting and criss-crossed by numerous joints/fractures. These structural features facilitate inltration of water and contain springs/seepages at lower part, although these regions are normally having poor source of groundwater. The total areal extent of this unit is estimated to be 96.2 km2, of which *39% falls in SB-III (Table 2).

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PD is an erosional geomorphic feature developed by the process of weathering, having a thin veneer of deposition mostly restricted to the periphery of high relief outcrops (Figure 4). From the soil map, the thickness of alluvium or weathered material varies from 0 to 20 m. In this unit, groundwater prospects are normally poor due to massive rocky surface, whereas granitic terrains with numerous fractures or joints permit inltration and storage of groundwater. Hence, depending on the thickness of weathered material and the presence or absence of secondary structures, groundwater potential is moderate to poor. In the Gurpur basin, this geomorphic unit (PD) is found in SB-I to SB-III, covering an area of 23.6 km2, of which 10.5% is estimated to be distributed in SB-III (Table 2). 4.1.3. Residual hills (RHs)

RHs are isolated hills or continuous chain of hillocks formed by dierential erosion and weathering of pre-existing plateaus, plains and complex tectonic mountains. RHs are usually formed where charnockites and hornblende-biotite gneisses are broadly folded and subjected to physical disintegration. RHs are found only in SB-I, SB-II and SB-III, covering a total areal extent of 12.9 km2. Maximum coverage of this unit is found in SB-II (Table 2). Hence, the groundwater prospects in this unit are poor due to steep slope and high runo with less inltration. 4.1.4. Inselbergs (I)

Inselbergs are isolated residual hillocks being remnants of weathering and denudation, found mostly within granitic terrain. Total areal extent of this unit is estimated to be 29.7 km2, of which 9.5% is found in SB-V (Table 2). This geomorphic unit acts as runo zone, where groundwater potential is found to be nil. 4.1.5. Lateritic uplands (LUs)

LUs are developed over tertiary sediments and gneissic/granitic basement. This unit is noticed only in SB-IV, SB-V and SB-VI, covering only 3.5 km2 area in the basin. The sub-basin-wise variation in their areal extent was found to be very less (0.03% to 1%). This unit is characterised by moderate inltration and signicant water-table uctuation. Groundwater prospect in this unit is moderate to good. 4.1.6. Pediplain

Pediplain is a result of weathering under arid and semi-arid conditions, representing the end stage of cyclic erosion (King 1950, Sparks 1960). PDs with more or less over burden of accumulated materials on the shallow to moderately weathered rocks have been identied in various lithological units by interpretation of soil maps and the eld survey. Based on the visual observations, pediplains have been classied into two classes: (1) Shallow weathered pediplain (PPS) is developed by continuous process of pedimentation at low gradient and covered with shallow weathered material


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and sparse vegetation. This unit of the basin occupies the maximum area (*294 km2), of which 74.7% of area is found in the SB-V (Table 2). Groundwater prospect is found to be poor (virtually dry environment) to moderate (gentle slopes adjacent to the stream courses/tanks) in this type of pediplain. (2) Moderately weathered pediplain (PPM) is found as nearly at terrain with gentle slope and occurs normally along all the major drainage courses/broken streams, which control the valley course. The PPM consists of relatively thick weathered material (ranging from 5 to 15 m) covered with soil and fairly thick vegetation, formed in low-laying areas and generally associated with lineaments. PPM is the second largest unit which covers the maximum basin area of *173 km2, of which 39.1% of area is found in the SB-VI (Table 2). Hence, groundwater prospects in this unit are considered as moderate to good, depending upon the thickness of weathered zone. 4.1.7. Piedmont plain (PP)

The PP is gently sloping longitudinal strip of land running parallel to foot hills, traversed by innumerable rivulets with parallel to sub-parallel drainage. It is found in SB-I, SB-III and SB-IV and formed of loose unconsolidated material (boulders, gravels, pebbles, cobbles and mixed with silt and clay) accumulating on the slope of hills, sometimes due to the coalescence of alluvial fans. PP covers an area of *15 km2, of which 11% of area is found in SB-IV (Table 2). The groundwater potential of this unit varies from moderate to good in the upper and lower piedmont zones. 4.1.8. Flood plain (FP) The FP is the youngest geomorphic unit formed by erosion and deposition processes. It is found along the river course, and its main tributaries show a gentle slope (*58). The PP is the second largest unit of the basin covering an area of *189 km2, of which 54.9% of area is found in SB-VII (Table 2). This unit includes various landforms, such as sand/channel bars, point bars, natural levee, back-swamps, etc., composed of sub-rounded to rounded fragments of sand, silt and clay deposited by river and their tributaries. Hence, groundwater prospects in this unit are usually very good to excellent.

4.2. Morphometric parameters 4.2.1. Linear parameters Stream order (u) is a dimensionless number which can be used for comparison of geometry of drainage networks on dierent linear scales. Streams of this basin have been numbered according to Strahlers (1964) ordering system. In sub-basins (SB-I to SB-VII), number of total streams varies from 35 (SB-V) to 609 (SB-VI). The lower number of streams of a sub-basin indicates the maturity of topography, whereas the higher number of streams (rst- and second-orders) indicates that the area is prone to erosion. The sub-basins cover an average area of *120 km2 and an average length (L) of *19 km. The SB-VII is found to be the shortest (10.1 km) and covers the

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lowest area of 36.4 km2, while the SB-VI is the longest (32.7 km) and covers the highest area of 287.8 km2 (Table 3) . Variations in stream orders and their coverage areas are attributed to dierences in physiographic and structural conditions (Sreedevi et al. 2005). According to Hortons law (1932), the geometric relation between the logarithm of average number of streams (Nu) and stream orders (u) shows an inverse linear relationship (R 7 0.991) (Figure 5). Bifurcation ratio (Rb) is the ratio of number of streams of any given order (u) to the number of streams (Nu) of the next higher order (Schumm 1956). Strahler (1964) has revealed that the Rb ranges from 3 to 5, which means the sub-basin is not inuenced by geological structures. Lower value of Rb indicates that drainage basin is underlined by uniform materials, and the streams are usually branched systematically (Vijay Pakhmode et al. 2003). Lower Rb values are also due to the presence of a large number of rst-, second- and third-order streams in the sub-basins (Manu and Anirudhan 2008). Computed values of Rb of all the seven subbasins and total Gurpur river basin are 55 (except the SB-VI), which indicates that the control of drainage network is mainly pronounced by geomorphology. Rb of SB-VI is 45, indicating the inuence of structural control on the development of drainage network. Structural control has been also validated from our earlier studies that the middle portion of the main river channel (i.e. in SB-VI) has been deected in V-shape and controlled by lineaments/faults (Avinash Kumar et al. 2010a). Stream length (Lu) is a dimensional property used in understanding the drainage network components which reect the hydrological characteristics of the underlying rock surfaces over the areas of consecutive stream orders. Generally, if the rock formations are permeable, a small number of relatively longer streams are formed, whereas if the rock formations are less permeable, a large number of smaller streams are developed (Vijay Pakhmode et al. 2003). The total stream length (SLu) is minimum (47.3 km) in the SB-V and maximum (500.8 km) in the SB-VI, with an average of 220.9 km (Table 4). Further, it is also noted that the Lu is maximum (average of 124.9 km) in the case of rst-order streams of all the sub-basins, as geometrical similarity is preserved in the basins of increasing order (Strahler 1964). In all the sub-basins, the Lu decreases consequently with an increase in stream order, indicating constant variation in the relief over which the streams occur (Subba Rao 2009). However, the average values of Lu computed for the rst- and second-order streams are 0.80 (0.601.14) km and 0.94 (0.751.23) km, respectively, and that of third- and fourth-order streams are 2.23 (1.093.57) km and 4.59 (0.40513.79) km, respectively (Table 4). The average values of Lu computed for the fth- and sixthorder streams are 2.60 (2.8111.2) km and 7.1 km, respectively. These dierences favour the distribution of number of streams and their lengths in dierent orders of streams. The geometrical relationship is shown graphically in the form of a straight line when the log of average total stream lengths vs. stream orders is plotted (Figure 6(a)). This linear plot indicates the negative relationship (R 7 0.947) and satises Hortons (1945) law of stream lengths. The law states that the average length of streams of dierent orders in a drainage basin tends closely to approximate a direct geometric series. However, the values of average Lu vs. u deviate from a straight line for fth- and sixth-orders due to dierences in the development of stream lengths of these two orders. The relation between the logarithm of average number of streams and the logarithm of average total stream lengths is shown in Figure 6(b). This relation shows positive linear relationship (R 0.929), which


Table 3. Computational results of linear morphometric parameters such as basin area, basin length, basin perimeter, number of streams and bifurcation ratio of sub-basins of the Gurpur basin. Number of streams (Nu) of dierent stream order (u) 1 239 282 224 37 24 423 44 181 1273 71 65 41 13 8 135 17 50 350 19 13 9 4 1 48 7 14 101 7 4 2 1 1 2 3 2 20 3 2 1 0.86 6 1 0.14 1 339 366 276 55 35 609 71 250 1751 3.37 4.34 5.46 2.85 3 3.13 2.59 3.53 3.64 2 3 4 5 6 SNu 1/2 2/3 3.74 5 4.56 3.25 8 2.81 2.43 4.25 3.47

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Sub-basin/basin 75.3 50.6 53.4 51.8 33.9 114.8 30.7 58.6 380

Area (A; km2)

Length (L; km)

Perimeter (P; km)

Bifurcation ratio (Rb) Nu/Nu1 3/4 2.71 3.25 4.50 4 1 24 2.33 5.97 5.05 4/5 2.33 2 1 0.76 3.33 5/6 6

Mean Rb 2.43 2.92 2.90 2.02 2.60 5.99 1.47 2.90 4.30

I II III IV V VI VII Averagea Gurpur basin

178.6 126.5 82.1 86.8 38.6 287.8 36.4 119.5 836.7

24.9 20.5 16 16.5 10.4 32.7 10.1 18.7 60

Note: aAs a whole basin.

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Figure 5. Relation between stream orders (u) and number of streams (Nu) in dierent basins of the study area.

clearly indicates that the number of streams increases as stream lengths increase. This concept has been widely used as empirical test to specic models of drainage network development; therefore, it is being validated by many workers (Strahler 1952, Leopold and Miller 1956, Schumm 1956, Melton 1958, Smith 1958, Broscoe 1959, Morisawa 1959, Raju et al. 1995, Rao and Babu 1995, Sreedevi et al. 2005, Devadas et al. 2006, Manu and Anirudhan 2008, Subba Rao 2009). Stream length ratio (RL) is an important relationship as far as the discharge of surface ow and erosional stages of the basin are concerned (Horton 1945). The RL is the ratio of the average length (Lu) of a stream of any given order (u) to the average length of a stream of the next lowest order (Lu71), which tends to be constant throughout the successive orders of the basin. The average RL of the fthorder streams shows a high value of 4.1 (0.527.6) compared to the average RL of the second-, third- and fourth-order streams within the basin, i.e. 1.23 (0.711.51), 2.45 (1.084.03), and 2.27 (0.156.82), respectively. The average RL of all the seven sub-basins varies from 0.846.38 (Table 4). This indicates that the rock formations in the area, drained by the fth-order streams, are more permeable and/or the gradients are gentler than those formations drained by the lower order streams. It has been noticed that RL between successive stream orders varies due to dierences in slope and topographic conditions and has an important relationship with the surface ow discharge and erosional stage of the basin (Sreedevi et al. 2005). 4.2.2. Areal parameters

Form factor (Ff) is the ratio of the basin area (A) to the squared value of the basin length (L) (Horton 1932, 1945). The Ff varies from 0 (in highly elongated shape) to 1 (in perfect circular shape) (Manu and Anirudhan 2008). Average Ff value of the Gurpur basin is 0.31. In sub-basins (I-VII), the Ff varies from 0.27 (SB-VI) to 0.36 (SB-VII), indicating that the whole basin is in an elongated form (Table 5, Figure 4). Elongation ratio (Re) is the ratio between the diameter of a circle of the same area as the basin (A) and maximum basin length (L) (Schumm 1956). Higher value of Re indicates active denudational processes with high inltration capacity and low


Table 4. Average Lu (km) in dierent u (Lu/Nu) SLu 1 0.75 0.69 0.60 1.14 1.11 0.64 0.66 0.80 0.69 1.13 0.80 0.75 1.23 0.79 0.86 1.00 0.94 0.91 1.73 3.25 2.02 3.57 2.72 1.28 1.09 2.23 1.77 4.99 4.91 13.79 4.03 0.405 2.29 1.75 4.59 4.82 2.81 4.21 11.2 2.60 4.67 49.7 7.1 49.7 2 3 4 5 6 335 316.7 210.8 76.6 47.3 500.8 59.1 220.9 1546.4 2/1 1.51 1.17 1.26 1.07 0.71 1.36 1.51 1.23 1.33

Showing sub-basin-wise computational results of stream lengths and stream length ratio of the Gurpur basin. Stream length ratio (RL) (Lu/Lu1) 3/2 1.53 4.03 2.68 2.90 3.44 1.48 1.08 2.45 1.95 4/3 2.89 1.51 6.82 1.13 0.15 1.80 1.61 2.27 2.72 5/4 0.5 0.8 27.6 4.1 0.97 6/5 0 10.6

Sub-basin/ basin 4 8.43 8.42 11.19 4.01 28.04 49.74 7.11 49.74 5 6

Total stream length (Lu; km) of dierent orders (u)

Mean RL 1.30 1.51 2.15 1.02 6.38 0.93 0.84 2.02 3.52

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I II III IV V VI VII Averagea Gurpur basin

178.7 194 134.2 42.3 26.6 269 29.2 124.9 874

80.1 52.3 30.9 16 6.3 116.3 17.0 45.6 319

32.8 42.2 18.2 14.3 2.7 61.3 7.6 25.6 179

34.9 19.6 27.6 4.0 0.4 4.5 5.2 13.7 96.2

Note: aAs a whole basin.

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run-o in the basin, whereas, lower Re values indicate higher elevation of the basin susceptible to high headward erosion along tectonic lineaments (Obi Reddy et al. 2004, Manu and Anirudhan 2008). The computed values of Re vary from 0.59 (SB-VI) to 0.67 (SB-V and SB-VII), and they are usually associated with high relief and steep ground slopes (Schumm 1956). The average value of Re of the whole Gurpur basin is 0.63, which reveals the fact that the basin is in an elongated shape (Table 5). According to Schumm (1956), Re values close to 1.0 are typical of regions of low relief, whereas those in the range of 0.60.8 are generally associated with high relief and steep ground slopes. Hence, the Re values indicate that the Gurpur river basin is associated with high relief and steep slopes. Circularity ratio (Rc) is the ratio of the area of the basin (A) to the area of the circle having the same circumference as the perimeter (P) of the basin (Miller 1953, Strahler 1964). The Rc is more inuenced by stream length, stream frequency (Fs) and gradient of streams of various orders rather than the slope conditions and

Figure 6. Graphs showing the geometric relationship (a) between stream orders (u) and stream lengths (Lu), and (b) between number of streams (Nu) and stream lengths (Lu) of whole Gurpur basin.

Table 5.

Sub-basin-wise areal morphometric parameters of the Gurpur basin. Sub-basins

Parameters Form factor (Ff) Elongation ratio (Re) Circularity ratio (Rc) Shape factor (Bs) Compactness co-ecient (Cc) Drainage density (km/km2) (Dd) Stream frequency (km72) (Fs) Drainage texture (km71) (T) Constant of channel maintenance (km) (C) Length of overland ow (km2/km) (Lo)
Note: aAs a whole basin.

I 0.29 0.60 0.40 3.48 1.59 1.88 1.90 3.56 0.53 0.27

II 0.30 0.62 0.62 3.32 1.27 2.50 2.89 7.24 0.40 0.20

III 0.32 0.64 0.36 3.13 1.66 2.57 3.36 8.64 0.39 0.19

IV 0.32 0.63 0.41 3.16 1.57 0.88 0.63 0.56 1.13 0.57

V 0.35 0.67 0.42 2.83 1.54 1.23 0.91 1.11 0.82 0.41

VI 0.27 0.59 0.27 3.72 1.91 1.74 2.12 3.68 0.57 0.29

VII 0.36 0.67 0.49 2.81 1.43 1.62 1.95 3.17 0.62 0.31

Averagea 0.31 0.63 0.42 3.21 1.57 1.77 1.97 3.99 0.64 0.32


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drainage pattern of a basin (Strahler 1964). Low, medium and high values of Rc give an indication of the young, mature and old stages of the tributaries in the basins, respectively. If the Rc value is 1.0, the basin is to be a perfect circle in shape and the discharge quantity would be high (Miller 1953). The values of Rc ranging from 0.27 (SB-VI) to 0.62 (SB-II) (Table 5) also indicate that the basin is not circular in shape, and the quantity of discharge is comparatively less in sub-basins with lower Re values. It may be attributed to dierences in geomorphological features in the river basin. Shape factor (Bs) provides a measurement of basin shape irregularity. The basin would be a perfect circle if the shape factor 1, successively, lower factors represent a more convoluted oc, and close to 0 approaching a line (Wolfgang and Desmond 2002). The calculated value of Bs of the Gurpur river basin is 3.21 (Table 5). Compactness coecient (Cc) is the relationship of the shape of the drainage basin to a circle. This is expressed as a ratio between the length of the drainage basin boundary (the perimeter) and the perimeter of a circle with the same area. If the basin was a perfect circle, then Cc would be equal to 1 (Gravelius 1914, Hidore 1964). The computed value of Cc for the whole Gurpur basin is 1.57 (Table 5). Drainage density (Dd) is the total length of streams of all orders divided by the area of drainage basin (Horton 1932, 1945). It provides a numerical measurement of landscape dissection and run-o potential (Obi Reddy et al. 2004). According to Horton (1945), low Dd is an indication of the prevalence of highly resistant/ permeable strata under dense vegetation and low relief, whereas, high Dd prevails in the weak/impermeable rocks under sparse vegetation and mountainous relief regions. In the Gurpur basin, Dd ranges from 0.88 (SB-IV) to 2.57 (SB-III) km/km2, with an average of 1.77 km/km2. Dd value 55 suggests the permeable nature of the surface strata of the river basin, which is a characteristic feature of a coarse-drainage density (Smith 1950, Strahler 1957). Stream frequency (Fs) is the ratio between the number of streams (Nu) of all orders within a basin and the basin area (A). The high value of Fs indicates greater surface run-o and a steep ground surface (Horton 1932, 1945). The computed Fs values of Gurpur basin range from 0.63 (SB-IV) to 3.36 (SB-III), with an average value of 1.97 per km2 (Table 5). It means that two streams are developed in an area of 1 km2 in the basin. High Fs values (42/km2) of 2.89, 3.36, 2.12 per km2 are observed in the SB-II, SB-III and SB-VI, respectively. This indicates that these sub-basins have steep slopes with less permeable rocks, which facilitate greater runo, less inltration, sparse vegetation and high relief conditions. The low Fs values (51/km2) in the SB-IV (0.63) and SB-V (0.91) reect the gentle ground slopes and greater rock permeability in these sub-basins, where the run-o is low and the inltration is high. If the values of Fs range from 12 per km2, as found in the SB-I (1.90) and SB-VII (1.95), it is an indication of the occurrence of moderate ground slopes associated with moderately permeable rocks, which promote moderate run-o and inltration. Drainage texture (T) is the product of drainage density and stream frequency. It is a measure of closeness of the channel spacing, depending on climate, rainfall, vegetation, soil and rock type, inltration rate, relief and the stage of development (Horton 1945, Smith 1950, Schumm 1956). Vegetation covers play an important role in determining the drainage density and texture (Kale and Gupta 2001). Soft

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or weak rocks unprotected by vegetation characterize a ne drainage texture; while massive and resistant rocks represent a coarse drainage texture. Sparse vegetation, with an arid climate, causes a ner drainage texture than that developed on similar rocks in a humid climate. The drainage texture is commonly dependent upon the vegetation type and climate (Dornkamp and King 1971). According to Smith (1950), the T is classied as coarse (54 per km), intermediate (410 per km), ne (1015 per km) and ultra-ne (415 per km). The T values vary between 0.56 (SB-IV) and 8.64 (SB-III), with an average of 3.99. All the sub-basins (except SB-II and SB-III) with T values ranging between 0.56 and 3.68 and the Gurpur river as a whole come under the coarse drainage texture (Table 5). This indicates that all the sub-basins have formations with higher permeability and inltration capacity except SB-II (7.24) and SB-III (8.64), which have an intermediate drainage texture. Constant of channel maintenance (C) is the inverse of drainage density (Dd) (Schumm 1956), which depends on the rock type, permeability, climatic regime, vegetation cover and relief as well as the duration of erosion. It is also the area required to maintain one linear kilometre of stream channel. Generally, the higher the C values of a basin, the higher the permeability of the rocks of that basin and vice-versa (Vijay Pakhmode et al. 2003, Subba Rao 2009). The C value of the sixthorder Gurpur basin is 0.64 (Table 5), which indicates that, on an average, 0.64 km2 of surface area is required to maintain 1 km length of stream channel. The SB-II and SB-III have low C value (50.5), indicating that they are under the inuence of less structural disturbance, low permeability, steep to very steep slopes and high surface run-o, while a high value indicates structural disturbances and less run-o conditions. Length of overland ow (Lo) is used to describe the length of ow of water over the ground before it becomes concentrated in denite stream channels. It is one of the most important independent variables, aecting both the hydrological and physiographical developments of the drainage basins (Horton 1945). During the evolution of the drainage system, Lo is adjusted to a magnitude appropriate to the scale of the rst-order drainage basins. Horton (1945) dened Lo as the length of ow path, projected to the horizontal of non-channel ow from a point on drainage divide (basin boundary). The average Lo is approximately equal to half the reciprocal of the average Dd (i.e. 1/2Dd). The computed values of Lo of the Gurpur basin range between 0.19 (SB-III) and 0.57 (SB-IV) km2/km, with an average value of 0.32 km2/ km (Table 5). For a comparison of the sub-basins in respect of the nature of owpath, the Lo is classied as: (1) low (50.20 km2/km), (2) medium (0.200.30 km2/ km) and (3) high (40.30 km2/km) in the study area. The high Lo values in the SB-IV, SB-V and SB-VII indicate the occurrence of long ow-paths, and thus, gentle ground slopes, which reect areas of less run-o and more inltration. The low Lo values in the SB-II and SB-III reveal short ow paths, with steep ground slopes, reecting the areas as associated with more run-o and less inltration. The SB-I and SB-VI show medium Lo values, indicating ground slopes, ow-paths, run-o and inltration being moderate. 4.2.3. Relief parameters

Basin relief (R) is the dierence in elevation between the highest and the lowest points of the basin. It is an important factor to understand the denudational


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characteristics of the basin, which controls the stream gradient and therefore inuences the ood pattern and the amount of sediment that can be transported (Hadley and Schumm 1961). The maximum height of the Gurpur basin is found to be *1870 m and the lowest is *20 m. Hence, the relief of the basin is 1850 m (Table 6). Relief ratio (Rr) is the dimensionless height-length ratio between the basin relief (R) and the basin length (L). The Rr of the Gurpur basin is 0.0328, whereas Rr value of sub-basins varies from 0.0062 (SB-VI) to 0.1066 (SB-II) (Table 6). A high Rr value indicates a hilly region and a low value is the characteristic of pediplain and valley regions. Slope analysis is an important parameter in geomorphic studies which are controlled by climato-morphogenic processes in the area underlying the rocks of varying resistance. An understanding of the slope distribution is essential, because it provides information about settlement planning, possibilities of agriculture, aforestation, deforestation, planning of engineering structures, etc. (Sreedevi et al. 2005). In the Gurpur basin area, slope varies from 2.48 to 878 (Figure 7). The maximum steepness was observed in SB-I, SB-II and SBIII. Ruggedness number (Rn) is a result of basin relief (R) and drainage density (Dd) that indicates the structural complexity of the terrain (Schumm 1956). Higher values of Rn are usually expected in a mountainous region of tropical climate with higher rainfall. The Gurpur basin with a very high Rn value of 3.28 (Table 6) indicates very high basin relief (1850 m). The SB-I, SB-II and SB-III have very high Rn, which suggest high relief and drainage density. Gradient ratio (Gr) is an indication of the channel slope from which the run-o volume could be evaluated. The basin has a gradient ratio of 0.0328, while Gr of sub-basins ranges from 0.0028 (SB-IV) to 0.1066 (SB-II) (Table 7). 4.3. Sub-basin-wise prioritization for groundwater prospect Geomorphology and hydrological-drainage characteristics are important in terms of evaluation of groundwater prospects. Based on various geomorphic units and their characteristics, prioritization studies have been carried out for the Gurpur river basin. The groundwater prospect for each unit has been categorized into two major categories (i) poor to moderate and (ii) good to excellent for

Table 6.
Sub-basin/ basin I II III IV V VI VII Gurpur

Relief aspects of the Gurpur basin.

Elevation in m Max H 1420 1800 1870 160 220 200 100 1870 Min h 60 80 80 60 60 20 20 20 Basin relief (R) (H 7 h) (m) 1360 1720 1790 100 160 180 80 1850 Basin relief (R) (H 7 h) (km) 1.36 1.72 1.79 0.1 0.16 0.18 0.08 1.85 Longest Axis L (km) 21.66 16.13 16.97 14.06 8.15 28.86 6.4 56.36 Relief ratio (Rr) 0.0628 0.1066 0.1055 0.0071 0.0196 0.0062 0.0125 0.0328 Ruggedness Number (Rn) R 6 Dd (km) 2.55 4.31 4.60 0.09 0.20 0.31 0.13 3.28

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Figure 7.

Slope map (in degree) of various sub-basins of the Gurpur basin.

Table 7.

Gradient aspects of the Gurpur basin. Elevation (m) at Source a 1380 1800 1870 100 160 160 80 1870 Mouth b 60 80 80 60 60 20 20 20 Fall in height (a 7 b) (m) 1320 1720 1790 40 100 140 60 1850 Length of main stream L (km) 21.66 16.13 16.97 14.06 8.15 28.86 6.40 56.36 Gradient ratio Gr (a 7 b/L) 0.0609 0.1066 0.1055 0.0028 0.0123 0.0049 0.0094 0.0328

Sub-basin/ basin I II III IV V VI VII Gurpur

prioritizing the sub-basins. Priority was assigned to every geomorphic unit based on the areal coverage and groundwater prospect. For example, the unit that has poor to moderate groundwater prospect with largest areal coverage of that particular sub-basin is ranked as 1, next largest areal coverage is ranked as 2 and so on. On the contrary, the unit that has good to excellent groundwater prospect with smaller areal converge in a particular sub-basin is ranked as 1, next smaller areal coverage is ranked as 2 and so on. After ranking all the geomorphic


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Table 8. The sub-basin-wise prioritization based on geomorphology and morphometric parameters. Geomorphic units SH PD RH I LP PPM PPS PP FP Compound value (Cg) Morphometric parameters Ff Re Rc Bs Rb Dd T Fs Compound value (Cm) Total compound value (Cg Cm) Final priority SB-I 3 2 2 2 4 2 4 3 4 2.9 2 2 3 6 5 3 4 5 3.8 6.64 4 SB-II 2 3 1 4 4 3 2 1 1 2.3 3 3 7 5 2 2 2 2 3.3 5.58 1 SB-III 1 4 3 6 4 4 3 2 2 3.2 5 5 2 3 3 1 1 1 2.6 5.85 2 SB-IV 4 1 4 3 2 5 5 4 5 3.7 4 4 4 4 6 7 7 7 5.4 9.04 6 SB-V 4 1 4 1 3 1 1 1 3 2.1 6 6 5 2 4 6 6 6 5.1 7.24 5 SB-VI 4 1 4 5 1 6 7 1 6 3.9 1 1 1 7 1 4 3 3 2.6 6.51 3 SB-VII 4 1 4 7 4 7 6 1 7 4.6 7 7 6 1 7 5 5 4 5.3 9.81 7

Note: The rst priority (i.e. 1) shows the most decit zone of groundwater prospect while the last priority (i.e. 7) shows the potential of groundwater.

units, the ranked values for each sub-basin were averaged to arrive at a compound value (Cg) (Table 8). The morphometric parameters such as linear/ areal (bifurcation ratio, drainage density, drainage texture and stream frequency) and shape (form factor, elongation ratio, circularity ratio, shape factor) have been used for prioritizing sub-basins to demarcate sub-basin-wise the most decit zone of groundwater. In linear/areal parameter, the highest value among the seven subbasins was ranked as 1, next higher value was ranked as 2 and so on. On the contrary, in the shape parameters, the lowest value was ranked as 1, next lower value was ranked as 2 and so on. After ranking the every morphometric parameter, the ranked values for each sub-basin were averaged to arrive at a compound value (Cm) (Table 8). The total compound value was calculated by the sum of geomorphic units (Cg) and morphometric parameters (Cm) as given in Table 8. Based on the total compound value, rst priority (1) is assigned for least compound value, which indicates most decit sub-basin for groundwater prospects. Likewise, next higher value is assigned for next priority (2) and so on. The last priority number (7) indicates that the sub-basin is the most surplus zone for groundwater potential. Hence, the sub-basin-wise prioritization results show that SB-II would be the most decit zone of groundwater, while the SB-III, SB-VI and SB-I are the next consequent decit zones of groundwater. SB-V, SB-IV and SB-VII are found to show increase in groundwater potentiality (Table 8, Figure 8).

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Figure 8. The sub-basin-wise prioritization based on geomorphology and morphometric parameters of the Gurpur basin.



This study reveals that the geomorphology and morphometric parameters are good proxies to evaluate the decit and surplus zones of groundwater for river basins/ watersheds. Quantication of geomorphic units showed that the maximum area (85%) of SB-II falls under poor to moderate groundwater prospects, whereas the maximum area (91.7%) of SB-VII is consisting of good to excellent groundwater prospects. The observed mean Rb value of SB-VI is the inuence of structural control on the development of drainage network, whereas the Rb of SB-I to SB-V and SB-VII indicates that geological structures do not seem to exercise a dominant control over the drainage pattern of the basin. Analyses of areal parameters such as Ff, Re, Rc and Bs suggest that the Gurpur basin is in an elongated form associated with high relief, steep ground slopes and dierences in the geomorphological features. High Fs values (42/ km2) in the SB-II, SB-III and SB-VI indicate the occurrence of steep ground slopes, with less permeable rocks, which facilitate greater run-o, less inltration, sparse vegetation and high relief conditions. The Dd value suggests that the nature of the surface strata of the river basin is permeable, which is a characteristic feature of a coarse-drainage density. The high relief ratio (Rr) and gradient ratio values indicate hilly regions from which the run-o volume could be evaluated.


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Sub-basin-wise prioritization results show that SB-II gets maximum priority for the most decit zone of groundwater. SB-III, SB-VI, SB-I, SB-V and SB-IV show a decrease in deciency of groundwater, while SB-VII is found to be a surplus zone of groundwater potential. The priority results prove that geomorphology and morphometric analyses clearly indicate hydrogeological relationships among the various parameters of the basin, which help to understand the river processes and groundwater prospects. Acknowledgements
The rst author thanks the Council for Scientic & Industrial Research (CSIR), India, for Senior Research Fellowship grant, and the Director, NCAOR, for his encouragement and support. The authors thank Mr. A.C. Dinesh, Senior Scientist, Geological Survey of India, Mangalore, for extending his suggestions and Mr. Pattabhi Rama Somayaji, Assistant Professor, University College, Mangalore, for improving the language of the manuscript. Authors acknowledge anonymous reviewers and Dr. Kamlesh P. Lulla, editor, for their insightful comments and suggestions on the previous draft, which improved the quality of the article to a greater extent.

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