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Case Study: The Rhone delta in southern France p39
Where is the Rhone delta?
The River Rhone flows into the Mediterranean Sea just to the west of Marseilles in southern
France. At the mouth of the River Rhone there is a large delta. The deposition of sand and
silt in the river channel has caused the river to split into two distributaries.
What are the names of the rivers which form the delta?
The river has its source in the Alps, but it has a major confluence at Lyons with the River
Saone which starts in northern France.
How is a delta formed?
A delta is a flat area of sand and silt built into the sea. It is formed by river deposition, when
a river enters the sea carrying a large load of sand, the velocity falls and the load is
For a delta to form, the following conditions are necessary:
The river carries a large load of sediment i.e. there is active erosion upstream and
the rocks over which the river passes must be relatively easy to erode.
There are no strong tides or currents which would wash away the sediments faster
then they could build up to form the delta
The river's flow is slowed down by entering the sea. Sea water is denser and
contains salt which helps the sand particles to bind together, becoming heavier and
sinking to the sea bed.
The river's flow is blocked so much by deposition that it is forced to divide up into
Sediment is deposited along the distributaries and extends into the sea