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The Features and Processes of a River Along Its Profile

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The Features and Processes of a River Along Its Profile


Along the path of a river, from source to mouth, the river shows many
different features and is affected by several different processes.
These processes are going to be described and explained in the course
of this essay and diagrams will be used to back-up and justify my

A river can be simply divided into an upland or lowland river
environment. Upland features and processes occur at a higher altitude,
closer to the source of the river; lowland features and processes
occur at lower altitudes near the mouth of a river. A river's course
can be better divided into a young, mature and old stage.

A simple map of a river showing the different stages is shown below:

The main processes acting upon a river are:

* Erosion

* Transportation

* Deposition

These three main river processes can be further sub-divided into
"sub-processes". Erosion, for example, wears rocks away through 4

* Corrasion or abrasion

* Attrition

* Corrosion or erosion by solution

* Hydraulic action

Transportation can be further divided into:

* Traction

* Saltation

* Suspension

* Solution

A description of these processes and diagrams showing how they affect
the river are shown below:

Erosive Processes

Corrasion or abrasion

This is when smaller material which is suspended, rubs against the
river banks. This is more common in lowland areas, where the river is
at a low altitude and has a low gradient.


This is when boulders are being tra...

... middle of paper ...

...r months.

Exfoliation or "onion" weathering

This occurs when a rock heats up in the sunshine and then cools down
at night. Over time the rock splits into layers and breaks up and
rolls into the river. This process occurs in Britain during the summer

If weathering continues valley sides will be worn down and more load
will be added to the river.

Human action

This can affect rivers in many ways. Humans can alter the shape and
course of a river by straightening the channel, building artificial
banks, dredging the channel and building bridges, viaducts and locks.
Humans also erode the sides of rivers by farming too close to the
river's edge and walking along paths which follow a river. Humans can
also pollute a river by dumping waste and chemicals into the water,
killing fish and vegetation.

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