Marghab River

The Murghāb River (Persian/Pashto: مرغاب, Morqâb), also called Margos, Margu and Margiana River (Ancient Greek: Μαργιανή, Margianḗ, مارغيانہ)[citation needed]) and from Turkmen language "murgas", is an 850-kilometre (530 mi) long river in Central Asia. It rises in central-western Afghanistan specially from Marghab District . The river takes its name from the region of Marghab District in Ghor province and runs north-west towards the Bala Murghab. Reaching the oasis of Mary in the Karakum Desert of Turkmenistan, the Murghab debouches into the Karakum Canal, a diversion of water from the Amu Darya.

A bridge across the Murghab in 1962
The generators of Hindu Kush hydro power plant (Гиндукушская ГЭС) on Murghab River soon after its completion in 1909 by the Hungarian Ganz Works. At the time, it was the largest hydro power generating station of the Russian Empire


The Murghab River originates in central-western Afghanistan in the Marghab District of Ghor province, on a plateau among the chain of mountains of Paropamisus, Gharjistan and Band-i Turkestan. In its higher course, the river runs from east to west, towards Mukhamedkhan, for about 300 kilometres (190 mi) in a narrow, steep valley measuring less than one kilometer in width, with narrow gorges in some places.

Between Darband-i Kilrekht and Mukhammedkhan, the Murghab crosses the western part of Band-i Turkestan, and then runs toward the northwest in a deep canyon. At Mukhammedkhan, it crosses the gorges of Jaokar. After this, the valley widens somewhat, gradually reaching a width of 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) in Turkmenistan. Beyond Mukhamedkhan, a small portion of the water of the Murghab is used for irrigation; approximately 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres) are irrigated from the Murghab in Afghanistan. The Murghab receives the waters of the Kaysar river on the right, then forms the border between Turkmenistan and Afghanistan over a 16-kilometre (10 mi) length.

In the territory of Turkmenistan, close to Tagtabazar, the Murghab receives the Kachan River from the left bank, and 25 kilometres (16 mi) further, there is the confluence of the Kushk. Reaching the oasis of Mary, the Murghab mingles its waters with those of the Karakum Canal, a diversion of water from the Amu Darya.

Catchment areaEdit

The catchment area of the Murghab is estimated at 46,880 square kilometres (18,100 sq mi).[1]

Hydrometry - the flows at TagtabazarEdit

The flow of Murghab was observed during 50 years (1936–85) at Tagtabazar, a location in Turkmenistan about 30 kilometres (19 mi) after the Murghab leaves the Afghan territory, and a score of kilometers upstream of the confluence with the Kushk.[2] At Tagtabazar, average annual flow observed over this period was 48.7 cubic metres per second (1,720 cu ft/s) for an observed surface area of 34,700 square kilometres (13,400 sq mi), which is 74 percent of the totality of the catchment area of the river. The geographically-averaged hydrometric flow passing through this part of the basin, by far greatest from the point of view of the flow, thus reached the figure of 44.3 millimeters per annual, which is very appreciable in this particularly desiccated area.

Monthly mean flows of Murghab (in cubic meters per second) measured at the hydrometric station of Tagtabazar
Data calculated over 50 years

A 2021 study indicates that in the near term (by 2040), the Murghab's flow could fall by as much as one-third due to climate change, and by 40 percent by the end of the 21st century.[3]


  1. ^ Surface water resources in North Afghanistan Archived 2011-07-23 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ UNESCO - Bassin du Murghab - Station : Takhta-Bazar Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Didovets, Iulii; Lobanova, Anastasia; Krysanova, Valentina; Menza, Christoph; Babagalieva, Zhanna; Nurbatsina, Aliya; Gavrilenko, Nadejda; Khamidov, Vohid; Umirbekov, Atabek; Qodirov, Sobir; Muhyyew, Dowletgeldi; Hattermann, Fred Fokko (April 2021). "Central Asian rivers under climate change: Impacts assessment in eight representative catchments". Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies. 34 (100779).

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 36°26′47″N 62°38′06″E / 36.44639°N 62.63500°E / 36.44639; 62.63500