We investigated the Holocene evolution of the Godavari delta along the east coast of India, by analyses of landforms and 11 borehole cores collected from the delta plain during 2010-2013 with 113 14C dates. The Godavari delta covering an area of 5820km2 is one of the world's largest wave-dominated deltas fringed by a ~30km wide beach-ridge plain. Our analysis of sediment facies and their ages indicated that the Holocene marine sequence thickens seaward from ~10m to more than 50m and that the local relative sea level rapidly rose from 43.5m to 7.5m below the present sea level during 10.9-8.0calkyBP followed by a slow rise up to its current level around 5calkyBP. Spatio-temporal variations in sediment accumulation rates and palaeo-shorelines for the last 6ky revealed successive changes of the main depocentre (delta lobe). We recognised six stages of delta evolution with distinct cyclic shifts of delta lobes controlled by avulsions. A linear beach ridge located 12-14km inland from the present shoreline, which separates the first three lobes from the last three, represents the effect of coastal erosion of past cuspate delta lobes, as does the current linear shoreline of the central part of the delta. Our study documents continuous net progradation during the Holocene on millennial to centennial time scales. However, a considerable decrease of sediment discharge due to dam construction and water diversion since the 1970s has exacerbated coastal erosion, resulting in shrinking of the Godavari delta plain and tipping it into a persistent destruction phase.
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