Fluvial Landforms

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V-Shaped Valleys

V-shaped valleys are found in the uppercourse of a river and contain large and angular material


  • Vertical erosion caused by abrasion, solution and hydraulic action causes steep sided valleys
  • Weathering and furher erosion causes material to move down the valley slopes into the river  channel, creating a narrow valley bottom
  • These processes have caused the valley to become a V shape aroung the river
  • Interlocking spurs form when the river twists around large boulders or areas of harder rock
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Usually in the middle course after a sudden change in gradient


  • there are layers of alternating weak and resistant rock; top layer of weaker rock is eroded more quickly so the water flows over the resistant rock
  • hydraulic action and abrasion eroded the less resistive rock beneath the hard rock forming a gorge, leaving a more resistive overhang
  • water falls vertically down into a plunge pool, which is deepened by vertical erosion
  • as overhang collapses and the process repeats, the waterfall retreats
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Small ccircular hallows in the river bed that usually occur in the upper course where there is turbulence and dominant vertical erosion


  • turbulence swirls the bedload in a circular motion, causing it to rub and scrape in abrasion, cutting out holes in the river bed
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Braided Channels

Usually occur in the rivers lower course


  • river is supplied with a large load
  • they occur when discharge varies, so in some areas of the channel sediment is deposited in several sand bars
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Meanders are sinuous bends in the river


  • form as a greater volume of water in lowland areas, so lateral erosion cuts into banks

Another formation

  • channels have alternating shallow sections so flow direscts in deeper areas where there is maximum velocity
  • this is towards the river bank so erosion will occurinside bends and deposition outisde where the river has a lower velocity; outerconcave bank is created and deposition on inside so its sinuuosity increases
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Oxbow Lakes

These will form where meanders are already present


  • Deposition occurs inside the bend and there is strong erosion on the outisde
  • this causes the gap between arms to narrow due to the erosion outisde and none inside bends
  • eventually the river will break throught the gap, this may be from a flood or persistant erosion, the river will now flow rounf the bend and straight through
  • eventually the straight current path becomes dominant and deposition will cut off the meander bend, forming an oxbow lake
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  • in a flood, river overflows its banks and material is deposited wither side of the channel
  • the first material deposited is called coarset; this creates small raised banks either side of the channel called leve'es
  • subsequent floods increase the size of the leve'es as more deposition will occur
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A floodplain is wide flat valley floor ether side of the river channel


  • lateral erosion occurs and the river overflows its banks leaving layers of silt either side of the channel, creating floodplain floor
  • width of the floodplain is deterined by the amount of meander migration and lateral erosion
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Deltas are depositional features at the river mouth


  • the river is carrying a large load
  • when the rivers velocity or carrying capacity decreases as the river meets a low tidal range or weaker currentsequential deposition occurs forming a delta :

-heaviest material is topset beds
-medium material is foreset beds
-smallest material is bottomset beds

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