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River Landscapes

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Drainage basin
Area of land drained by a river.
Boundary of a drainage basin, usually high land such as hills or ridges.
Starting point of a river.
Where the river meets the sea.
Upper Course
Area of a river near its’ source, often in upland areas and when discharge is smaller.
Middle Course
Area further downstream, typified by wider valley floors and less steep slopes. River begins to meander.
Lower Course
Area nearer the mouth, typified by very wide flat floodplains, meanders and oxbow lakes.
Contour Lines
Lines on maps which show the height of land.
Wearing away of the land
Hydraulic action
The sheer power of the water forcing into cracks, compressing air and breaking the rocks apart.
The effect of rocks being flung at the bed and banks and rubbing the land away.
The dissolving of rocks such as limestone and chalk.
The knocking together of pebbles, making them gradually smaller and smoother.
Vertical erosion
When rivers erode down into the land, often in the upper course.
Lateral erosion
When rivers erode from side to side, often in middle and lower courses.
Soil Creep
Where individual particles of soil move slowly down a slope.
Sliding / Slumping
Saturated soils and weak rock flow down the slope, often it is rapid such as a landslide. In slumping material rotates as it flows down.
Mass movement
Movement of large amounts weakened rock / soil down a slope. Can be very slow of very sudden.
Rock fall
When rock from a weathered rock face falls down, often when rock at the base of a cliff has been eroded.
Movement of material and sediment along the river.
Heavy particles rolled along the river bed.
The transport of dissolved chemicals.
A hopping movement of pebbles along the river bed.
Lighter particles carried (suspended) within the water.
The dropping of transported sediment and material when river discharge and velocity decreases and lose energy. Heaviest materials are dumped first.
Name for fine sediments deposited in the lower course of a river.
The make up and type of rocks around the coast that influence landforms.
Weaknesses or joints in the rock that make erosion more likely.
More resistant rock
Hard rock which take more time to erode. Often metamorphic or igneous rock types.
Less resistant rock
Softer rocks which are easier to erode, often sedimentary.
Interlocking spurs
When rivers flow around river valley side slopes as they do not have power to erode them into a straight line.
V-shaped valley
Shape created when rivers erode vertically down in the upper course.
Created when a river flows over areas where hard rock lies over a layer of softer rock which is more easily eroded.
Plunge pool
Deep pool at the base of waterfall created by erosion.
Very steep or vertically sided valley caused when a waterfall retreats upstream.
Bends in a rivers course, created by lateral erosion in middle and lower course of a river.
River Cliff
Created by lateral erosion on the outside of a meander.
Slip off slope
Created by deposition on the inside of a meander.
Point Bar
Name for the material deposited on a slip off slope.
Oxbow Lakes
Formed when a meander neck becomes narrower and the bend is cut off and the river takes a straighter course.
Flood plains
Flat land either side of a river formed by erosion and deposition.
Natural embankments of sediment formed along the banks of a river.
Long profile
Shows the height of the land and the distance downstream from the rivers source to its mouth.
Valley cross profile /cross section
Shows the steepness of the valley sides
River cross section
Shows the shape of the river bed and banks.
Large human made lakes to store water for human use.
Periods of low rainfall which reduces river discharge and velocity.
Natural event when water levels exceed the bankfull level and water covers the surrounding land.
Shows how a river responds to a storm, showing relationship between rainfall and river discharge.
Rising limb
How water levels rise in a river following rainfall.
Lag time
Difference between heaviest rainfall and highest discharge.
Falling limb
Shows how water levels fall in a river.
Hard engineering
Expensive techniques to stop flooding in certain areas. Try to overcome or control natural processes.
Soft engineering
More natural approach to managing flooding, using natural processes.
Walls or banks built near river channels.
Involves deepening or straightening river channels.
Flood Relief Channels
Extra channels built next to or leading from rivers to take away excess water.
Dam and reservoirs
Built to store and control water levels in a river.
Areas on the flood plain that are allowed to flood.
River restoration
Restoring the river’s original course.
Flood plain zoning
Allocating different uses for land according to levels of flood risk.