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The Physical Geography of Southeast Asia$
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Avijit Gupta

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199248025

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199248025.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 17 October 2021

The Urban Geomorphology of Kuala Lumpur

The Urban Geomorphology of Kuala Lumpur

(p.344) 20 The Urban Geomorphology of Kuala Lumpur
The Physical Geography of Southeast Asia

Ian Douglas

Oxford University Press

The city of Kuala Lumpur, lying at the junction of the hills of the Main Range (Banjaran Titiwangsa) of Peninsular Malaysia and the coastal plain, has many of the environmental problems that beset the urban areas of Southeast Asia. It has to cope with heavy, intense rainfalls, frequent local nuisance flooding, unstable hillsides, complex foundation conditions, and the impacts of mining and construction activities. The citizens, engineers, and planners of Kuala Lumpur have had to find ingenious solutions in order to live in harmony with their environment. While careful investigation and skilful applications of science and technology has overcome many of the problems, others remain unresolved. The persistent problems arise because the links, and thus responsibilities, associated with changes in one place and impacts elsewhere are not acknowledged and the available understanding of hydrologic and geomorphic systems is not applied. Founded by Kapitan China Yap Ah Loy at the confluence of the Gombak and Klang Rivers in 1857 as a tin-mining settlement (Gullick 1983), Kuala Lumpur quickly outgrew its floodplain and fluvial terrace site to spread onto the adjacent hills. The British resident, Captain Bloomfield Douglas, moved his headquarters to Kuala Lumpur from Klang in 1880 and soon after built his official residence on the hill to the west of the Gombak River, where the prime minister’s residence now stands. So began a tradition of the elite living on the hills which has persisted to the present day. In December 1881 the new township and the surrounding tin mines were hit by floodwaters (Gullick 1983), so establishing the problem of living with fluvial extremes which still besets the city. Virtually every wet season in the first eighty years of Kuala Lumpur’s existence brought some flooding to the town. The river channels became choked with silt carried down from the mines upstream (Gullick 1983). Record rainfall in December 1926 led to a flood 1 m deep in the town centre. After the floods, a new, wider channel, with a double trapezoidal cross-section was built through the town centre. These works enabled a major flood in 1930 to pass through the town without causing any damage (Gullick 1983).

Keywords:   delta, floodplain, kaolinite, mangrove, plantation, rainforest, soil erosion, tower karst, urbanization, weathering

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