Geomorphic Response to Rapid Uplift in a Folded Structure: The Upper Tigris Case

  • Sabri KaradoğanEmail author
  • Catherine Kuzucuoğlu
Part of the World Geomorphological Landscapes book series (WGLC)


The River Tigris is one of the most significant rivers in the Middle East. All the landscapes drained by the river from Hazar Lake and neighbouring mountains down to the Iraqi–Syrian border in the Cizre region are mainly characterized by folded structures, often faulted, widely affecting limestone series. In this structural context, the incision of rivers shaped Jura-type and Appalachian-type morphologies. Meanwhile, tectonics has also generated rapid changes in the river network. The rapidity of post-Mio-Pliocene uplift caused deep incision of canyons into rising and thrusting folds, and preservation of a few remarkable Mio-Pliocene and Pliocene topographies. The chapter presents a geomorphological survey of the headwaters of the River Tigris, which is formed of two branches. The meeting of these branches (Maden and Birkleyin streams) downstream Eğil city forms the proper River Tigris. The paper examines the landscapes in the Euphrates–Tigris divide area where Hazar Lake is located. Landscapes in both the Maden and Birkleyin basins record the Eastern Anatolian Fault Zone activity during the Pleistocene, with epigenic canyons and meanders, dry valleys resulting from captures, and karstic systems deepening during uplift. Dams (constructed or under construction) have a profound impact in the Tigris and tributary valleys. The end of this programme will provoke the drowning of almost half the main river valley floor down to the Turkish–Syrian/Iraqi border (from Bismil to Cizre) and the loss of ancient settlements, towns and historic heritage that are located along the Tigris floodplain.


River Tigris Rapid uplift Jura-type landscapes Karstic underground network Canyons 


  1. Aksoy E, İnceöz M, Koçyiğit A (2007) Lake Hazar Basin: a negative flower structure on the East Anatolian Fault System (EAFS), SE Turkey. Turk J Earth Sci 16:319–338Google Scholar
  2. Algaze G, Brueninger R, Lightfoot C, Roosenberg M (1991) The Tigris-Euphrates archaeological reconnaissance project: a preliminary report of the 1989–1900 Seasons. Anatolica 17:175–240Google Scholar
  3. Altınlı IE (1966) Doğu ve Güneydoğu Anadolu’nun Jeolojisi (Geology of Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia). MTA Bull I(67) (Ankara)Google Scholar
  4. Atalay I, Karadoğan S, Yıldırım A (2010). Karstification and Ground River System in SE Anatolia: a key study from Birkleyn Cave System. In: Proceedings 7th Turkey-Romania geographical academic seminar, Antalya, Turkey, 1–9 JuneGoogle Scholar
  5. Barazangi M, Sandvol E, Seber D (2006) Structure and tectonic evolution of the Anatolian Plateau in eastern Turkey. In: Dilek Y, Pavlides S (eds) Postcollisional Tectonics and Magmatism in the Mediterranean Region and Asia, vol 409. Geological Society of America Special Paper, pp 463–473CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Çambel H (1973) Güneydoğu Anadolu Tarihöncesi Araştırmların Kültür tarihi Bakımından Önemi (The importance of prehistory in Southeast Anatolia in cultural researches). Conferences Atatürk IV, TTK Ed., AnkaraGoogle Scholar
  7. Erinç S (1953) Doğu Anadolu Coğrafyası (Geography of Eastern Anatolia), no 15. Geography Institute of Istanbul Publ., IstanbulGoogle Scholar
  8. Eriş KK (2013) Late Pleistocene Holocene sedimentary records of climate and lake-level changes in Lake Hazar, Eastern Anatolia, Turkey. Quatern Int 302:123–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Eriş KK, Akçer Ön S, Çağatay N, Nagihan Aslan T, Damcı E, Ülgen UB (2016) Deciphering paleoclimatic responses for the evolution of Late Pleistocene to Holocene sedimentary records of Lake Hazar, Eastern Anatolia, Turkey. In: Geophysical Research Abstracts, vol 18. EGU2016-1674-1Google Scholar
  10. Günek H, Yiğit A (1995) Hazar Gölü Havzasının Hidrografik Özellikleri (Specificity of the Lake Hazar Basin hydrography). In: 1st Symposium on Lake Hazar and its environment. Sivrice-Elazığ, pp 91–103Google Scholar
  11. Halliday WR, Shaw TR (1995) The Iskender-i Birkilin caves in the 9th and 12th centuries BC. NSS Bull J Caves Karst Stud 57:108–110Google Scholar
  12. İmamoğlu MŞ, Çetin E (2007) Güneydoğu Anadolu Bölgesi ve Yakın Yöresinin Depremselliği (Earthquakes in the Southeastern Anatolian Region and its close surroundings). DÜ Ziya Gökalp Eğitim Fakültesi Dergisi 9:93–103 (In Turkish)Google Scholar
  13. Karadoğan S, Çağlıyan A, Durmuş E (2008) Ergani (Diyarbakır) Çevresinde Kuvaterner’de Meydana Gelen Drenaj Değişiklikleri ve Bölge Jeomorfolojisine Etkileri (Impacts of changes in drainage during the Quaternary on the geomorphology and environment of Ergani region). In: National symposium of geomorphology, Çanakkale University, pp 5–18 (In Memory of Prof. Dr. M. Ardos)Google Scholar
  14. Karadoğan S, Çağlayan A, Durmuş E (2009) Ergani-Çermik (Diyarbakır) Arasındaki Kenar Kıvrımları Kuşağı ve Çevresinin Jeomorfolojik Özellikleri (Geomorphologic characteristics of side folded zone between Ergani and Çermik). E-J New World Sci Acad 4(4) (Art no 4A0016)Google Scholar
  15. Kusch H (1993) Die Tigrishöhlen in Ostanatolien (Türkei). Die Höhle 4:27–33Google Scholar
  16. Moreno DG, Ferrari AH, Moernaut JG, Boes X, Daele MV, Avşar U, Çağatay N, Batist MD (2010) Structure and recent evolution of the Hazar Basin: strike-slip basin on the East Anatolian Fault, Eastern Turkey. Basin Res 10:1–17Google Scholar
  17. Nicoll K (2010) Landscape development within a young collision zone: implications for post-Tethyan evolution of the Upper Tigris River system in Southeastern Turkey. Int Geol Rev 52(4):404–422CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Özdoğan M (2001) Southeast Anatolia joint project and excavations at Çayönü. In: Belli O (ed) Istanbul University’s contributions to archaeology in Turkey (1932–2000). Istanbul Univ. Rectorate Publ., pp 12–17Google Scholar
  19. Özdoğan M, Başgelen N, Kuniholm P (eds) (2011) The Neolithic in Turkey. New excavations and new research, vol 1. The Tigris Basin. Archaeology and Art Publications, Istanbul, 271 pGoogle Scholar
  20. Sandvol E, Türkelli N, Barazangi M (2003) The eastern Turkey Seismic Experiment: the study of a young continent-continent collision. Geophys Res Lett 30.
  21. Şaroğlu F, Yılmaz Y (1987) Geological evolution and basin models during neotectonic episode in the eastern Anatolia. MTA Bull 107:61–83Google Scholar
  22. Schachner A (2009) Assyriens Könige an einer der Quellen des Tigris: Archäologische Forschungen im Höhlensystem von Birkleyn und am sogenannten Tigris-Tunnel. TübingenGoogle Scholar
  23. Şengör AMC, Yılmaz Y (1981) Tethyan evolution of Turkey: a plate tectonic approach. Tectonophys 75:181–241Google Scholar
  24. Şengör AMC, Özeren MS, Keskin M, Sakınç M, Özbakır AD, Kayan İ (2008) Eastern Turkish high plateau as a small Turkic-type orogen: implications for post-collisional crust-forming processes in Turkic-type orogens. Earth Sci Rev 90:1–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Tonbul S, Yiğit A (1995). Pleyistosen’den günümüze Hazar Gölü’ndeki seviye değişmeleri, çevresel etkileri ve Hatunköy kapması (The Hatunköy capture and its impacts on the lake levels of the Lake Hazar, during Pleistocene until the present). In: 1st symposium on Lake Hazar and its environment. Sivrice-Elazığ, pp 41–69Google Scholar
  26. Yener KA (2000) The domestication of metals: the rise of complex metal industries in Anatolia. Brill, LeidenGoogle Scholar
  27. Yiğitbaş E, Yılmaz Y (1996) New evidence and solution to the Maden complex controversy of the Southeast Anatolian orogenic belt (Turkey). Geol Rundsch 85:250–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ziya Gökalp Faculty of Education, Department of GeographyDicle UniversityDiyarbakırTurkey
  2. 2.Laboratory of Physical Geography (LGP, UMR 8591)CNRS, Universities of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and Paris 12 U-PecMeudonFrance

Personalised recommendations