VADODARA: The Saraswati river, so far considered mythical, did exist, geologists from M S University’s Department of Geology have found.

The geologists have made a significant breakthrough on the mighty Himalayan river, which according to the vedic literature once flowed through the Thar desert.

Based on the studies of a 60 metre long sediment core from the central part of Great Rann of Kutch, popularly known as the ‘White Desert’, the geologists have established that the shallow marine gulf that previously occupied the Great Rann of Kutch formed the final resting place of the large volume of sediments derived from the Himalaya and transported by the Saraswati river.

The study carried out by professor L S Chamyal and professor D M Maurya under a project funded by the Department of Science and Technology suggests that the river flowed for nearly 7,000 years. Using geochemical proxies (strontium and neodymium isotopes), MSU researchers have validated the existence of the river 10,000 years before present.

The findings have been reported in Scientific Reports, a globally acclaimed high impact journal which published the scientific paper on July 14.

“Our study establishes that there was a river which brought sediments from Himalayas and filled the Rann of Kutch. The radiocarbon dating, neodymium and strontium isotope records of the Rann sediments show that the Himalayan sediments reached the Great Rann through the Saraswati river at least since the last nearly 17,000 years,” Chamyal told TOI, “in other words, we can get signature of existence of the river from 17,000 years before present to 10,000 years before present.”

“However, there is clear evidence for mixing of sediment influx from the river Indus or due to chocking of Saraswati river after 10,000 years by the sands of Thar desert,” said Maurya, adding that the 60 metre core is archived at the department.

“In fact, Great Rann sediments are found to be mixture of Himalayan sediments, Thar and Indus derived sediments and their individual proportion has changed through time. Indus-derived sediment accelerated the infilling of Great Rann after 6,000 years when the Indus delta started to grow. This may have occurred due to progressively drier climate, which choked the Saraswati River in the Thar desert,” said Chamyal.

The isotopic analysis was carried out at the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) under the supervision of professor Sunil Kumar Singh, an internationally renowned scientist who is now Director of National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa.

Professor Liviu Giosan from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts, United States, who has been working on evolution of Indus river delta since last two decades helped the MSU geologists in discussions and evolution of the Saraswati hypothesis.