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River Processes, Landforms and Flood Management
Important terminology

Condensation: The cooling of a gas so that it changes into a liquid, for instance as water
vapour cools, it condenses to become water droplets, which, when heavy enough, fall as
Confluence: Where two rivers meet and join to form one…

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Hydrological Cycle

Rivers are part of the hydrological cycle - a closed system which moves water from the
oceans, through the atmosphere, and back to the oceans. River systems themselves,
however, are open water-flow systems which drain an area of land. Water flows down
from higher areas to lower areas…

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find its way into the main river channel (unless it is taken out of the system - for example
by being piped to a factory). The boundary of a drainage basin is called the watershed.

The main input into the system is precipitation, mainly as rainfall, but also as things…

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The course of a river

The journey of river from source to mouth is sometimes called the course of the river and
can be shown as a long profile (below). The course of a river can be divided into three main
sections: upper course, middle course and lower course.


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The lower course sees the river flowing at its fastest until it slows down when it meets the
sea. The channel is very wide, deep in places where the water is flowing quickest, and
smooth sided.

Upper Course (7a) Mid Course (7b) Lower Course (7c)

Long Profile Steeply sloping Shallow…

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For thousands of years, rivers have been the focal point of people's activities. Some
of these are listed below:

Rivers provide a source of fresh drinking water, a source of food (fishing) and a
transport route, all of which were very important to the location of early

Flood plains…

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hydroelectric power has meant a great increase in the building of dams to trap the
water of a river and its drainage basin.

Rivers have always been seen as a convenient way of waste removal. This has led to
many rivers becoming much polluted and in some cases, dangerous.


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suspension - fine light material is carried along in the water
saltation - small pebbles and stones are bounced along the river bed
traction - large boulders and rocks are rolled along the river bed

Rivers need energy to transport material, and levels of energy change as the river moves…

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action. Large closer to base level. erosive energy of
boulders deposited Deposition occurs the river is almost
and eroded in situ. in the slower totally
moving insides of concentrated on
meanders. cutting sideways.
Much deposition

Transportation Traction and Saltation, Mainly suspension
saltation. suspension and and solution.

River landforms…

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As the river cuts its deep V-shaped valley in its upper course, it follows the path of the
easiest rock to erode. Thus it tends to wind its way along, leaving the more resistant areas
of rock as interlocking spurs.

The main characteristics of a V - shaped valley and…


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