Rivers and Coast Key Words

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Hydrological Cycle
The cycle by which water moves between the earth’s surface and the atmosphere.
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Closed System
No loss occurs from the system. The cycle does not lose any water, it has a fixed amount.
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Open System
Loss of matter occurs from the system, water lost from the drainage basin system.
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Drainage basin
The area of land drained by a river and its tributaries.
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Water enters system through precipitation.
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Boundary of the drainage basin. A ridge of high land. It separates one drainage basin from neighbouring drainage basins.
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Water is lost from system by rivers carrying it to the sea or by evapotranspiration.
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Process by which water is transferred from the atmosphere to the earth’s surface in the form of rain, snow sleet or hail.
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Incoming precipitation is trapped by vegetation and/or buildings.
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Overland flow and surface run-off
Process by which water moves downslope over the earth’s surface.
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Process by which water enters the soil vertically.
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Process by which water travels vertically through rock.
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Process by which water moves downslope (horizontally) through the soil under the influence of gravity.
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Water table
The line marking the upper limit of saturation in the ground.
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Water filling all pore spaces below the water table.
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Groundwater flow
Process by which groundwater moves downslope below the water table under the influence of gravity.
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Water moves through the system from one place to another.
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Water is held within the system.
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The point where a river begins.
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A small stream or river flowing into a main river.
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A place where a tributary meets the main river.
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The end of a river where it meets the sea.
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Material is moved along the river bed. It collides with other material and breaks into smaller pieces.
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material rubs against the river bank. The bank is worn away and collapses.
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rocks forming the banks and bed of a river are dissolved by acids in the water.
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Hydraulic action
The sheer force of water hitting the river banks.
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Large rocks and boulders are rolled along the river bed.
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Smaller stones are bounced along the river bed in a leap-frogging motion.
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Fine material, light enough to be carried by the river.
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Dissolved material transported by the river.
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Sweeping curve in the course of a river.
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Oxbow lake
Curved lake found on the flood plain of a river. Caused by the loops of meanders being cut off at times of flood and the river subsequently adopting a shorter course.
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Lateral erosion
Erosion that occurs sideways instead of vertically.
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Naturally formed raised bank along the side of river channel.
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Flood plain
Area that suffers periodic flooding along the course of the river.
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Delta feature
composed of silt formed when sediment is deposited at the mouth of the river, caused by the slowing of the water on entering the sea.
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River that has branched away from a main river.
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A rock which stores significant amounts of groundwater in its pore spaces.
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Process by which water is transferred from the earth’s surface to the atmosphere.
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Process by which water is transferred from vegetation to the atmosphere via stomata on leaves.
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The total output of water vapour from the drainage basin system to the atmosphere through the combined processes of evaporation and transpiration.
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Storm hydrograph
Graph showing discharge against time following a single precipitation event. Comprises of a rising limb and a recession limbGraph showing discharge against time following a single precipitation event. Comprises of a rising limb and a recession limb.
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Lag time
The time between peak rainfall and peak discharge.
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River discharge
The volume of water passing a given point at a given time. Calculated by multiplying cross-sectional area by average velocity. Expressed in cumecs (m/s3).
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Suspended load
Solid particles carried within the current, but not touching the bed.
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The coarser material carried along the bed of a stream by the force of the water.
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When caves, which have developed on either side of a headland, join together they form a natural arch.
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The process whereby rock particles wear down through collisions with other rock particles. This often occurs when pebbles are thrown against cliffs, boulders or other pebbles, causing them to shatter and break.
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Water moves up a beach as a wave breaks. This is called the swash. The return movement of the water, back down the beach, is called the backwash.
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A bar is very similar to a spit. It is a ridge of sand or shingle which forms across the mouth of a river, the entrance to a bay or harbour. It is usually parallel to the coast.
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A wide indentation into the land by the sea, protected on each side by a headland. The water in a bay is usually relatively shallow; the wave action less strong than at the headlands.
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A gently sloping deposit of sand, pebbles or mud, deposited along the coast.
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Blow hole
A blow hole is formed when a joint between a sea cave and the land surface above the cave becomes enlarged and air can pass through it. As water flows into the cave, air is expelled through the pipe like joint, sometimes producing an impressive blast
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A weakness, such as a joint, is enlarged by wave action, finally creating a cylindrical tunnel which follows the line of weakness. Caves developing back to back may give rise to arches and stacks.
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A steep, and usually high, rock face found at the edge of the land where it meets the sea. Cliffs can be formed from most rocks, height generally increasing with hardness of rock.
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Cliff line
The margin of the land. The cliff line is identical to the coastline, but consists of cliffs rather than lower features such as dunes and beaches.
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The margin of the land. Where the margin consists of cliffs, it is known as the Cliff line
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Constructive wave
- When waves break at a rate of ten or less per minute each wave is able to run up the beach and drain back again before the next wave arrives. The swash is more powerful than the backwash so deposition can occur.
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Corrasive action
This is a form of wave erosion. Pebbles, boulders and rocks are thrown against the cliff face by breaking waves. This causes undercutting of the cliff and leads to the breakup of both the cliff and the objects being thrown against it. Destructive wav
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The mouth of a river where fresh water and sea water mix, and tides have an effect. Estuaries are often to be found on submerged coastlines, where a river valley has been flooded by the sea.
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This distance of open water over which the wind can blow and form waves.
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Areas of harder rocks tend to resist the erosive powers of the sea. The resulting area of land, jutting out into the sea, is a headland. Bays are to be found between headlands.
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Hydraulic action (Coast)
When a wave breaks against a cliff it causes air, trapped within cracks, to suddenly become compressed. As the water retreats the air is allowed to expand, often explosively. Repeated expansion and contraction of the cracks leads to the break up of
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When a spit extends across the mouth of a river, to the extent that it causes the river to become diverted along the coast, an area of water is created separated from the sea by a narrow strip of land. This is a lagoon.
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Solid matter carried by water, including material in solution, material suspended in the water, and larger material moved along the water / ground interface.
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Longshore drift
When waves break on to a beach at an angle, material is pushed up the beach at an angle by the swash, but pulled back down the beach by the backwash at ninety degrees to the coast. In consequence, material is slowly moved along the coast, in the dire
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- Longshore Drift transports material along the coast. When the mouth of a river, or an indented area, is encountered material starts to be deposited. The deposition begins where the coast changes direction and extends down coast in the direction of
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When a natural arch collapses, the remaining upright sections form stacks, isolated rocks sticking up out of the sea.
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The movement of water in a breaking wave as it moves up the beach.
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The daily movements of the sea as it covers and exposes the area between the high tide and low tide marks. Tides are the result of lunar activity, and to a much lesser degree, winds and atmospheric pressure.
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A bar linking an island to the mainland. Wave-cut Platform As cliffs become eroded down to beach level they appear to migrate inland. The remains of the former cliffs form a flat rock platform. This is known as a wave cut platform.
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


No loss occurs from the system. The cycle does not lose any water, it has a fixed amount.


Closed System

Card 3


Loss of matter occurs from the system, water lost from the drainage basin system.


Preview of the back of card 3

Card 4


The area of land drained by a river and its tributaries.


Preview of the back of card 4

Card 5


Water enters system through precipitation.


Preview of the back of card 5
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