Morphometric analysis; drainage characteristics; groundwater resources; Suketi river basin; Himachal Himalaya; India.
Suketi river basin is located in the Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh, India. It encompasses a central inter-montane valley and surrounding mountainous terrain in the Lower Himachal Himalaya. Morphometric analysis of the Suketi river basin was carried out to study its drainage characteristics and overall groundwater resource potential. The entire Suketi river basin has been divided into five sub-basins based on the catchment areas of Suketi trunk stream and its major tributaries. Quantitative assessment of each sub-basin was carried out for its linear, areal, and relief aspects. The analysis reveals that the drainage network of the entire Suketi river basin constitutes a 7th order basin. Out of five sub-basins, Kansa khad sub-basin (KKSB), Gangli khad sub-basin (GKSB) and Ratti khad sub-basin (RKSB) are 5th order subbasins. The Dadour khad sub-basin (DKSB) is 6th order sub-basin, while Suketi trunk stream sub-basin (STSSB) is a 7th order sub-basin. The entire drainage basin area reflects late youth to early mature stage of development of the fluvial geomorphic cycle, which is dominated by rain and snow fed lower order streams. It has low stream frequency (Fs) and moderate drainage density (Dd) of 2.69 km/km2. Bifurcation ratios (Rb) of various stream orders indicate that streams up to 3rd order are surging through highly dissected mountainous terrain, which facilitates high overland flow and less recharge into the subsurface resulting in low groundwater potential in the zones of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd order streams of the Suketi river basin. The circulatory ratio (Rc) of 0.65 and elongation ratio (Re) of 0.80 show elongated nature of the Suketi river basin, while infiltration number (If) of 10.66 indicates dominance of relief features and low groundwater potential in the high altitude mountainous terrain. The asymmetry factor (Af) of Suketi river basin indicates that the palaeo-tectonic tilting, at drainage basin scale, was towards the downstream right side of the drainage basin. The slope map of Suketi river basin has been classified into three main zones, which delineate the runoff zone in the mountains, recharge zone in the transition zone between mountains and valley plane, and discharge zone in the plane areas of Balh valley.