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| Last Updated:: 30/10/2018



Larger bodies of standing water occupying distinct basins (Reid et al, 1976). These wetlands occur in natural depressions and normally fed by streams/rivers. On satellite images lakes appear in different hues of blue interspersed with pink (aquatic vegetation), islands (white if non-vegetated, red in case of terrestrial vegetation). Vegetation if scattered make texture rough.

Ox-bow lakes/ Cut off meanders:

A meandering stream may erode the outside shores of its broad bends, and in time the loops may become cut-off, leaving basins. The resulting shallow crescent-shaped lakes are called oxbow lakes (Reid et al, 1976). On the satellite image Ox-bow lakes occur near the rivers in plain areas. Some part of the lake normally has aquatic vegetation (red/pink in colour) during pre-monsoon season.

High Altitude lakes:

These lakes occur in the Himalayan region. Landscapes around high lakes are characterized by hilly topography. Otherwise they resemble lakes in the plain areas. For keeping uniformity in the delineation of these lakes contour line of 3000 m above msl will be taken as reference and all lakes above this contour line will be classified as high altitude lakes.

Riverine Wetlands:

Along the major rivers, especially in plains water accumulates leading to formation of marshes and swamp. Swamps are ‘Wetland dominated by trees or shrubs’ (U.S. Definition). In Europe, a forested fen (a peat accumulating wetland that has no significant inflows or outflows and supports acidophilic mosses, particularly Sphagnum) could be called a swamp. In some areas reed grass - dominated wetlands are also called swamps). (Mitsch and Gosselink, 1986). Marsh: A frequently or continually inundated wetland characterised by emergent herbaceous vegetation adapted to saturated soil conditions. In European terminology a marsh has a mineral soil substrate and does not accumulate peat (Mitsch and Gosselink, 1986). Tone is grey blue and texture is smooth. Comment: Using satellite data it is difficult to differentiate between swamp and marsh. Hence, both have been clubbed together.


Said of an area in which water stands near, at, or above the land surface, so that the roots of all plants except hydrophytes are drowned and the plants die (Glossary of Geology, 1974). Floods or unlined canal seepage and other irrigation network may cause water logging. Spectrally, during the period when surface water exists, waterlogged areas appear more or less similar to lakes/ponds. However, during dry season large or all parts of such areas dry up and give the appearance of mud/salt flats (grey bluish).


Rivers are linear water features of the landscape. Rivers that are wider than the mapping unit will be mapped as polygons. Its importance arises from the fact that many stretches of the rivers in Indo-Gangetic Plains and peninsular India are declared important national and international wetlands (Ex. The river Ganga between Brajghat and Garh Mukteshwar, is a Ramsar site, Ranganthattu on the Cavery river is a bird sanctuary etc.). Wherever, rivers are wide and features like sand bars etc. are visible, they will be mapped.


A pond or lake built for the storage of water, usually by the construction of a dam across a river (Glossary of Geology, 1974). On RS images, reservoirs have irregular boundary behind a prominent dyke. Wetland boundary in case of reservoir incorporates water, aquatic vegetation and footprint of water as well. In the accompanying images aquatic vegetation in the reservoir is seen in bright pink tone. Tone is dark blue in deep reservoirs while it is ink blue in case of shallow reservoirs or reservoirs with high silt load. These will be annotated as Reservoirs/Dam. Barrage: Dykes are constructed in the plain areas over rivers for creating Irrigation/water facilities. Such water storage areas develop into wetlands (Harike Barrage on Satluj – a Ramsar site, Okhla barrage on the Yamuna etc. – a bird sanctuary). Water appears in dark blue tone with a smooth texture. Aquatic vegetation appears in pink colour, which is scattered, or contiguous depending on the density. Reservoirs formed by barrages will be annotated as reservoir/barrage.


A term used in Ceylon and the drier parts of Peninsular India for an artificial pond, pool or lake formed by building a mud wall across the valley of a small stream to retain the monsoon (Glossary of Geology, 1974). Ponds Generally, suggest a small, quiet body of standing water, usually shallow enough to permit the growth of rooted plants from one shore to another (Reid et al, 1976). Tanks appear in light blue colour showing 152 bottom reflectance. In this category Industrial ponds/mining pools mainly comprising Abandoned Quarries are also included Quarry is defined as “An open or surface working or excavation for the extraction of stone, ore, coal, gravel or minerals." In such pits water accumulate (McGraw Hill Encyclopedia of Environmental Sciences, 1974), Ash pond/Cooling pond The water body created for discharging effluents in industry, especially in thermal power plants (Encyclopedic Directory of Environment, 1988) and Cooling pond: An artificial lake used for the natural cooling of condenser-cooling water serving a conventional power station (Encyclopedic Directory of Environment, 1988). These ponds can be of any shape and size. Texture is rough and tonal appearance light (quarry) to blue shade (cooling pond).

Man made Waterlogged:

Man-made activities like canals cause water-logging in adjacent areas due to seepage especially when canals are unlined. Such areas can be identified on the images along canal network. Tonal appearance is in various hues of blue. Sometimes, such waterlogged areas dry up and leave white scars on the land. Texture is smooth.

Salt pans:

Inland salt pans in India occur in Rajasthan (Sambhar lake). These are shallow rectangular man-made depressions in which saline water is accumulated for drying in the sun for making salt.


Such coastal bodies of water, partly separated from the sea by barrier beaches or bass of marine origin, are more properly termed lagoons. As a rule, lagoons are elongate and lie parallel to the shoreline. They are usually characteristic of, but not restricted to, shores of emergence. Lagoons are generally shallower and more saline than typical estuaries (Reid et al, 1976). Backwater: A creek, arm of the sea or series of connected lagoons, usually parallel to the coast, separated from the sea by a narrow strip of land but communicating with it through barred outlets (Glossary of Geology, 1974).


A notable physiographic feature of salt marshes, especially low marshes. These creeks develop as do rivers “with minor irregularities sooner or later causing the water to be deflected into definite channels” (Mitsch and Gosselink, 1986). Creeks will be delineated; however, their area will not be estimated.


Beach is an non-vegetated part of the shoreline formed of loose material, usually sand that extends from the upper berm (a ridge or ridges on the backshore of the beach, formed by the deposit of material by wave action, that marks the upper limit of ordinary high tides and wave wash to low water mark (Clark, 1977).Beach comprising rocky material is called rocky beach.

Intertidal mudflats:

Most non-vegetated areas that are alternately exposed and inundated by the falling and rising of the tide. They may be mudflats or sand flats depending on the coarseness of the material of which they are made (Clark, 1977).

Salt Marsh:

Natural or semi-natural halophytic grassland and dwarf brushwood on the alluvial sediments bordering saline water bodies whose water level fluctuates either tidally or non- tidally (Mitsch and Gosselink, 1986). Salt marshes look in grey blue shade when wet.


The mangrove swamp is an association of halophytic trees, shrubs, and other plants growing in brackish to saline tidal waters of tropical and sub-tropical coastlines (Mitsch and Gosselink, 1986). On the satellite images mangroves occur in red colour if in contiguous patch. When mangrove associations are scattered or are degraded then instead of red colour, brick red colour may be seen.

Coral reefs:

Consolidated living colonies of microscopic organisms found in warm tropical waters. The term coral reef or organic reef is applied to the rock- like reefs built-up of living things, principally corals. They consist of accumulations of calcareous deposits of corals and corraline algae with the intervening space connected with sand, which consists largely of shells of foraminifera. Present reefs are living associations growing on this accumulation of past (Clark, 1977). Reefs appear in light blue shade.

Man-made Salt pans:

An undrained usually small and shallow rectangular, man-made depression or hollow in which saline water accumulates and evaporates leaving a salt deposit (Glossary of Geology, 1974). Salt pans are square or rectangular in shape. When water is there appearance is blue while salt is formed tone is white.

Aquaculture ponds:

Aquaculture is defined as "The breeding and rearing of fresh-water or marine fish in captivity. Fish farming or ranching". The water bodies used for the above are called aquaculture ponds (Encyclopedic Directory of Environment, 1988). Aquaculture ponds are geometrical in shape usually square or rectangular. Tone is blue.