Summary of a River Study

Summary of a River Study

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Summary of a River Study

We visited the Highland Water River on the 13th of September. The
River Highland Water site is located in the new forest, that last year
became a national park. The location of the river is shown on map 1,
where Ocknell Enclosure is the source. The New Forest is located in
the South of England. It flows close to Lyndhurt and Brockenhurst, and
is a short river with a total length of just 12 miles. Its mouth is in
Lymington, and there it flows into Southampton Water, where it flows
out into the English Channel.

Site 1 is the Source of the River called Ocknell Plain. It is located
in a marshy area, and is the furthest away from the nearest town (7
km). Its grid reference is . It was also the furthest to walk to, it
was far away from built up areas, and we had to walk for half a mile
to reach the area. Site 2 is closer to the main road, and (unlike
source 1) it is within a few minutes walking distance. This site is
within 4 km of Lyndhurst; it is more built up and developed here.
Millyford Bridge’s grid reference is . The Balmer Lawn (site 3) is
located within 1 km of Brockenhurst. Here human influence is highest,
and it is a far busier area, as it is situated next to a hotel so
there are more people in the area.


· Stop clock

· Tape measure to measure the width of the river

· Rulers to draw the tables, and measure the depth of the river

· Dog biscuits to test the velocity of the river

· Pencils and Pens to record the results, and take sketches at each

· Clipboards to record the results more accurately

· A digital camera, to take photographs at each site, to ensure that
if we forget our sketches we could use them afterwards to help with
the sketch.

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To record the width at each site we will take the tape measure, and
position people at either side of the bank. We will then take a
reading, and the result will be recorded neatly in a table for
accuracy. The depth will be found by having two people holding the
tape measure at either side of the river. Another member of the group
will then climb into the river with a ruler, and measure the depths at
20 cm intervals. You should find that you should find that you would
have to do more measurements as it flows further downstream, so the
intervals can become larger if it is particularly wide.

To measure the velocity of the river at each site we will measure the
distance by measuring out a suitable distance for the biscuit to
travel. Then we will have one member of the group standing at the
start with a stopclock, and the biscuit. We will then have one member
standing at the finish. The biscuit will then be placed in the water,
and the clock will be started at the same time. When the biscuit
reaches the finish the person at the end will signal to the person
with the stopclock and the clock will be stopped and the times will be
recorded. The test will then be repeated again for accuracy, with all
factors the same, including the biscuit.


1. I expect the width of the river to increase as the river flows
further downstream. As tributaries join up with the main river,
meaning that there is a greater volume of water flowing down the
river, and as a result there is more erosion and the banks are
wider. I think that the width will increase because as you go
downstream more tributaries will join up the river and there will
be a larger volume of water flowing through the river channel,
meaning that it needs to be widened to support the volume of
water. There will also be a bigger velocity further downstream, so
the water particles will hit the bank harder, and wear it away
more. Also when the river is larger it is able to carry more
material meaning that more corrosion occurs, which is when
materials rub against the riverbank and wear it away.

2. The river will deepen as the river flows downstream, as vertical
erosion is taking place, which wears away the riverbed and makes
it deeper. I also predict that the river is made deeper by
traction, which is when large boulders are rolled along the bed of
the river causing them to wear away the riverbed and make it
deeper. Corrosion is also occurring, which is also on the
riverbed, wearing it away further. Moreover the river will deepen
downstream simply because there is a greater volume of water, so
it will have to deepen and widen slightly to support the water
that it gains from all the tributaries that join it.

3. I would expect the speed of the river to decrease as the river
flows downstream, as the river flows fast at the source because
the source is usually at a high up place, so gravity will
naturally speed up the water, whereas when it is downstream the
water is flatter so gravity is not acting on it as naturally. This
means that the river will require more energy to move as fast as
it did at the source. However all rivers are different, and as the
river is only 12 miles long the source may not have such a high
starting point, so as the river flows on the river may speed up
due to the sheer volume of water behind them.

4. I predict that the river will meander more when the river flows
further downstream. I think this because there is a greater amount
of erosion and more water is pushed to the side, a process called
lateral erosion occurs. However on the other side there is much
less water, and as a result a large bend or meander is formed out
of the rock.

5. More point bars and river cliffs will be found downstream. As
there will be more meanders, causing the slower water to flow done
one side of the river channel, and drop its bed load forming a
point bar. The faster water will flow down the outside, causing
the river to meander more. That will mean that the faster water
will flow on the outside, so when the water turns it will hit the
bank causing river cliffs to form.

6. I predict that the river will become deeper and wider as the
river flows downstream, as there is a greater volume of water,
which results in more erosion, meaning that the sides and bed of
the river to wear away more to make it deeper.

7. As the river flows downstream the gradient may decrease. However
all rivers vary, so the source may not be in a high up place, for
instance the river we are studying is only 12 miles long, which is
relatively short. So the water may not start in such a high up place
before flowing into the sea. However if it is in a high place the
gravity will make the river flow faster. When the river is flowing
downstream it tends to flatten out, which would mean that gravity is
not acting on it as much, but it is joined by tributaries, and the
volume of water particles behind the river may make it flow faster,
with more currents being formed as they flow closer to the sea.


Site 1: Ocknell Plain

Description: The above graph shows that the maximum depth of the river
is 70cm, with a minimum of 55 cm. The river falls steeply at one side,
which could be due to river cliffs being formed. The river has no
water in it at the moment, which could be because there has been a
lack of rainfall recently.

Explanation: From looking at my graph I can see that there was no
water in this section of the river. I can also tell that the river did
not meander at this point. As it is not shallow at one side, and
moreover it is no deeper, meaning that there will be no faster point
of the river. The depth of the river also doesn’t reach 0 cm until it
reaches the edge, which shows that there are no river beaches/ point
bars which are found on a meander. The graph also shows us that the
river is not particularly deep, as the deepest part is 70cm, and the
shallowest is 0cm.

I believe that there was a very small amount of river in the river
because it has either been a very dry summer, which would mean that
much of the water had evaporated, and moreover there would have been
limited rainfall, thus meaning that the rivers water would not have
been refreshed. However there are signs of water being in the river,
the picture shows that erosion has been occurring on one side of the
river. On the other side a river beach has been formed, which is where
the river has meandered with the faster water flowing on the outside
and the slower water flowing on the inside, eventually stones are
deposited by the slower water, and it dries up and forms a river
beach. The reason that there is no water is because the river is
seasonal, in winter the source of the river will be flowing freely, as
it is colder and there is a higher rate of rainfall. Whereas in summer
when it is drier there is less rainfall resulting in a far lesser
volume of water flowing down the river. The maximum depth of the river
channel is 70cm, this shows that the maximum depth of the river water
could be 70cm, otherwise the river would overflow.


Site 2- Millyford Bridge

Description: From looking at my graph we can establish that at this
section of the river there is water; furthermore we can tell that the
river is deeper than at site 1, as the depth at site 1 was only 70cm,
whereas at this site it is 1.20m. This could be due to more vertical
erosion, or the river carrying a larger bedload, and as a result of
traction the boulders and stones will wear away the sediment on the
bottom of the river. From the graph we can also tell that it is
meandering to the right. As a river cliff is forming on the right hand
side of the graph, and a point bar is forming on the left. We can tell
that a river cliff is forming as it is straight edged on the right,
and furthermore it becomes shallower on the left, and as I imagine
that it is where the slower water flows, and rocks and stones have
been deposited there.

Explanation: The above graph shows the river further downstream, we
can tell this by the fact that here there is a river channel, and it
is deeper and wider than that of source 1. There is also a large drop
about one metre from the river bank on the right. From this we can
tell that there has been a large amount of lateral erosion, as there
has been a large increase in the width of the river channel, as at the
source it was 2 metres, whereas now it is over 4 metres wide.
Corrosion has also taken place, as the river is carrying a larger
bedload, therefore larger rocks are wearing away more of the riverbed,
this makes it deeper on the bed. The right hand river channel almost
certainly has a point bar, as it is less deep, and it is quite
shallow. This could be where the slower water could be flowing round a
bend (meander), as the faster water will flow along the outside in the
deeper water. Also in this area there were plenty of meanders, so it
would probably be true that the river meanders here. The river also
shows a river cliff on the left hand side, we can see that there is a
river cliff there because it falls steeply into the river channel.

Site 3- Balmer Lawn


Description: The above graph shows the left hand side of the river to
be the deeper side, with a maximum depth of 45cm; the right hand side
of the graph is very shallow, where the depth is 1 or 2 centimetres
for over 4 meters. The scale of the graph is also much larger than the
other 2 sites visited, which shows it is very wide at this site.

Explanation: Balmer Lawn was the widest section of river we visited,
at its widest it was 14 meters in diameter, however as shown by the
above graph it was very shallow in comparison to site 2. However
despite the river was very wide, it had a comparatively small depth.
The 4m to the right of the river channel was only approximately 1cm
deep, this is because a large bedload was deposited, and the slower
water flows here. On the left hand side of the graph the deeper and
faster water flows, this suggests that there will be a meander, as
there is a point bar on the right and the river cliffs are on the
left. The meander would therefore be right.


From conducting our river study we can prove that many of my
hypothesis I made were correct. We can tell this by a number of things
shown above in the results section. For instance that hypothesis 1 was
correct, we can see this by the fact that the width of the river
increased by 10.8m. As at its source it was 3.40 in width, whereas it
ended up with a large width of 14 meters. My second hypothesis was
proved incorrect, as I predicted that it would become deeper
downstream, however it became very shallow in parts of site 3, I
believe it to be because of the fact that it became so wide that not
as much attrition or vertical erosion was taking place. As the water
has such a wide river channel that it flows freely, and when we were
at site 3 there was a large point bar, so it was slowly meandering
causing all the stones to be deposited so less attrition occurs.

My hypothesis number 3 was proved correct, as the speed of the river
increased. We can tell this by the fact that at every site we tested
the river for its velocity. This involved measuring out a distance
(which was kept equal for accuracy purposes on every test) and timing
how long it took a dog biscuit to be carried from the start to the end
of the course in a certain amount of time. We would then repeat the
experiment a number of times for accuracy. We discovered that it took
less time for the river to carry the dog biscuit over the distance
further downstream. Which shows the river is flowing faster (a larger
velocity) further downstream. For my fourth hypothesis


I feel that my conclusions are accurate, as when we conducted the
River study we did a number of things to make sure it was accurate.
For example when we tested the velocity of the river we would measure
the start and the finish distance, and ensure that all factors were
kept the same to make sure of no anonymous results. We would also
repeat the experiment 3 times, to make sure that we get the most
accurate results possible. When we measured the width and depth to
make it fair we would repeat the depth test, and record all results
taken accurately in a table, which would make sure that it is not
forgotten or changed.

The only downside to collecting data was at site 1. This area had no
water; so collecting the bedload was difficult, as it was hard to
distinguish the river channels bedload from the stones that had
gathered there from wind and human activity. This affected my results
by making the bedload vary so greatly that it is hard to gain an
accurate result. I believe that the bedload would have been smallest
at stage one, as the river was not yet powerful enough to transport
larger rocks.

The other problems encountered were the fact that we only went to the
site at one time of year. This meant that during other times of year
the rivers characteristics would have varied greatly from that of
summer. For example I believe that if we visited the site in winter
then it would have water in, as in winter there tends to be higher
rainfall, which means that the river channel would fill up. Moreover
it tends to be colder, which means that the water will not evaporate
and therefore the water will remain in the river for a longer period
of time.
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