The Change of a River From Its Source to Its Mouth

The Change of a River From Its Source to Its Mouth

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The Change of a River From Its Source to Its Mouth

Main Aim:

To find out in which ways a river changes from its source to its

We traveled to the west coast of Wales to find out how a river changes
from its source to its mouth. We were situated in the small rural
village of Tal-y-bont, which was near the town of Aberystwyth. The
river that we decided to test out with our hypothesis and find out our
aim on was the river Einion. The river Einion is a tributary to the
river Dovey. The river is roughly 4 miles long and 12 miles from

Aberystwyth is mainly a tourist-based town, situated between three
vast hills, equipped with many facilities for tourists but it is also
renowned for its Castle ruins and stony beaches and also a large spit
at Cardigan Bay. Aberystwyth is the home for the University of Wales
and the National Library of Wales. The landscape of Aberystwyth is
very hilly, with many interlocking spurs and V shaped valleys in the
area. In order to test and prove our hypothesis, we conducted tests on
the river Einion at five different points along the river to show us
the changes it has made from its source to its mouth.


This is where the river Einion is situated on a map of Wales






River Dovey Aberystwyth River Einion


[IMAGE][IMAGE][IMAGE] Site 5 Site 4 Site 3 Site 2 Site 1

These are the five sites that we collected data from and proved our
hypothesis at.


· As the depth of the river increases from source to mouth, the
sediment size will decrease.

I came to the decision to test this hypothesis, as it is fairly
complex yet obvious. The sediment size will decrease as attrition from
boulders makes the size smaller. Also corrasion from rocks rubbing on
the riverbed will cause the bed to become deeper as the river flows

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from source to mouth.

· The width of the river will increase towards the mouth of the river.

This is because of lateral erosion taking place. As meanders of turns
in the river become more frequent, the erosion takes place on the
outside of the turn making the river wider.

· As the velocity increases, the gradient will decrease.

This is because as the velocity increases, so does the hydraulic
radius. The gradient will decrease because, as in all rivers, it
begins at a high peak at finished at sea level, so the river level out
towards the mouth to stay at sea level and not fall below.



The following data needed to be collected to prove our hypothesis
River width, Gradient, Wetted perimeter, Depth, Sediment size and

At each point we carried out the same method to find each group of

River Width The river width is simply the width of the river. We
decided to find the width of the river so we could test the hypothesis
of: the width of the river will increase towards the mouth of the
river. To find the width, two ranging poles were placed either side of
the river where the water came into contact with the bank. With a
measuring tape tied to each pole, we could measure the distance from
one side to the other. On each pole we marked out where the tape would
be tied to so that it gave us a level reading at the same point, thus
making the reading fair. We then read the distance between each pole,
giving us the width of the river at that point. This was used at every
site. We encountered some problems such as the poles falling over when
we were pulling the tape tight so that it gave us an inaccurate read,
but we easily overcame this by making members of the group hold the
poles so they stood at 90 degrees.

Gradient The gradient is the angle that the river flows at. We decided
to find the gradient so that we could link the hypothesis of: As the
velocity increases, the gradient will decrease. To find the gradient,
two ranging poles were once again used. These, this time, were placed
in the middle of the river running parallel to the river and its
banks, standing one meter apart. The marks that were used to find the
width of the river, which are the same height on both the poles, were
used. Placing it next to the mark on one pole, we used the clinometer
by aiming it at the mark on the other pole. This gave us a reading of
the gradient. To ensure that the reading was accurate and fair at each
site, we made the same person from the group take the reading from
each site using the same techniques, also, another person checked the
reading the person had given at each site and if the reading proved
incorrect, we would take the average from the two results. However the
clinometer did require the personnel carrying out the reading to use
their own personal judgment, which might have been faulty. We did come
to a few problems while performing the test, as the river had a very
stony bed. What we did to overcome this was to remove the first layer
of large boulders so that the ranging poles could stand in the smaller
shingle underneath. This technique was used for both poles at all
sites to keep the test as fair as we could.

Wetted Perimeter The wetted perimeter is the area of riverbed that
water comes into contact with. Finding this data would show us how the
size of the river increases from source to mouth, giving us secondary
data as well as the width and the depth. In order to find the wetted
perimeter, the measuring tape was placed at one-river banks where it
came into contact with the water. Then, the tape was placed across the
river and members of the group stood on the tape so that it came into
contact with the bed at as many different points as possible. This was
all under the water, so when the tape reached the other bank and the
water came into contact with it, the measurement was recorded at this
point. Although this seems fairly complicated, it was easy to carry
out, and we achieved a fairly accurate result. The only way, in which
the reading was unfair, is that the tape was not in contact with the
entire riverbed, most of it where feet had been holding it down was in
contact, but not all of it. This could of lead to results being
slightly different than they should have been at each site.

River Depth The river depth is how deep the river is. I found this so
that I could test the hypothesis: As the depth of the river increases
from source to mouth, the sediment size will decrease. To find the
depth of the river, we divided the width of the river into 7. This is
so we could find the depth at each point and find an average. The
depth was measured by a meter rule being placed at the first point
across the river, against the riverbed. Where the water met the ruler
the measurement was taken and recorded. To make sure that the reading
was accurate, two people from the group viewed the reading and agreed
on the measurement. The rule was twisted so that it ran parallel with
the river; making it more streamlined which made the measurement easy
to take. The people taking the reading were downstream from the rule
so they did not interrupt the flow of water. The bottom of the meter
rule, marked 0, was placed at the riverbed. Once again boulders became
an inconvenience towards the top of the river, because they were
larger, so we moved them out of the way and placed the rule against
the shingle below. We repeated this for the seven points across the
river and at the four other sites. The depth was taken to 1 decimal

Sediment Size This is the size of the deposits in the river such as
boulders and rocks. Finding the sediment sizes allows me to continue
with the hypothesis that: As the depth of the river increases from
source to mouth, the sediment size will decrease. To find the results,
the river was split into the same 7 points as when finding the depth.
From each of these points we took 3 rocks from the riverbed. We
measured the longest side and then threw them over the bank so that we
would not be able to pick that rock up again by mistake. The person
picking up the rocks, tended to pick up the bigger rocks as they could
only feel the rocks that were coming out of the water, not see them.
The chances were that they would pick up the bigger rocks because they
covered more of the riverbed. The same person did all of the picking
up of the rocks, as different people may have had a tendency to pick
up larger or smaller rocks. Once they had picked them out of the
water, they passed them to another person who measured the longest
edge and then discarded of the rock.

Velocity The velocity is the speed that the river is flowing at. I
chose to find out these readings so that I could test the hypothesis:
As the velocity increases, the gradient will decrease. Once again the
7 splits in the river were used. At each point a device called a flow
meter was used. A flow meter is an instrument, like a fan, that turns
when under pressure from the flow of water. This device was placed a
point and the number on the dial was observed and recorded. The person
stood downstream from the device, facing it upstream to catch the full
flow of the water. Once in position the button was pressed and the
reading begun. After 1 minutes of timing from another member of the
group, the button was pressed to stop the dial. This new reading on
the dial was then recorded. To find the counts per minute, the number
on the dial after the 1-minute of recording was taken and the number
on the dial before the recording was taken from it. This process was
then repeated at each of the 7 points across the river and then at
each site. The test was performed well and we came into no
difficulties. However in some places we did not get a true reading as
some large rocks that we could not move obstructed the flow meter.
This gave us some unusual results.

Data Presentation

Data Presentation

Hypothesis 1




As the depth of the river increases from source to mouth, the sediment
size will decrease. To prove these results, I need to show the depth
of the river at the sites and also the sediment size at the different
sites. Depth



Sediment Size


I chose these types of graphs as it displays the data simply. The
graphs show the sediment sizes and the depths.

This graph shows the depth plotted against the sediment size. It is
easy to make a comparison with them both plotted on a graph.

Hypothesis 2 The width of the river will increase towards the mouth of
the river.


Hypothesis 3. As the velocity increases, the gradient will decrease.

This graph shows the width of the river at different sites. It is
plotted in this way as it helps to see a cross sectioned view of the

Hypothesis 3 As the velocity increases, the gradient will decrease


These graphs show the gradient and the velocity.

Analysis and conclusion


· As the depth of the river increases from source to mouth, the
sediment size will decrease.

This hypothesis turned out to be, according to my results, mostly
incorrect. For the depth of the river data, sites 2,4 and 5 proved to
be anomalies. The other results showed that the hypothesis were
correct, that the depth of the river increased from source to mouth
and the sediment size decreased from source to mouth. Judging from my
graph, the results showed a little bit of change in the direction that
would prove my hypothesis to be correct, however the anomalies made it
more difficult to show. Site 2 and 4 turned out to be shallower than
site 1 which should not of been the case, along with site 5. It should
have got deeper as the river goes from its source to its mouth
otherwise water would not flow out to the sea but stay in the hills.
The only reasons that could justify the anomalies in the data could be
that we measure the river at only 5 sites. Because we only measured
the river at 5 sites, it did not show us the true landscape of the
river. The only way to overcome this factor is to test the entire
river, which is impossible. We may of merely just chosen the wrong
points in the river to test, maybe a few feet either way of the sites
could of given us the data that we were looking for. Another reason
for these results could be that we measured wrong at the three sites.
Which may or may not of been true, but is a possibility. Also another
problem could have been that the river was too small and did not have
enough water in it and energy to cause corrasion against the riverbed
from rocks to take place, as the river did not flow fast enough to
move the rock. However, the sediment size did decrease from the source
to the mouth, except for sites 3 and 4. These may have been for the
same reasons as above, or that the river was too small for attrition
from large boulders to take place. There was a negative correlation
from site 1 to 5, whereas it should have had a positive correlation.

· The width of the river will increase towards the mouth of the river.

From my graph, I cannot prove my hypothesis to be correct. All of the
results seem to be anomalies. The graph had a negative correlation
whereas it should have had a positive correlation. All of the results
were anomalies and formed hardly any trend. This may have been that we
did not go to the correct points at either side of the river, or that
we chose narrow or wide parts at them specific points in the river.
Where we measured to the edge of the bank, maybe we should have
measured to the point where the water comes into contact with the
bank. Also, we may have not been measuring straight across the river
and had the tape at an angle, this would of given us extra distance
that may of affected our results. From looking at secondary sources,
the width of the river should definitely of got bigger as we reached
the mouth.

· As the velocity increases, the gradient will decrease.

This was not conducted very well in accordance to our results or the
river didn't give us the results we were looking for. From my graph, I
can see that the velocity started to increase overall from site 1 to
site 2. However this pattern did not continue as site 3 turned out to
have the lowest velocity of all 5 sites. Site 4 was fairly high and
then site 5 became very low. The strange results may have been because
the sites were not equally spaced out or that the area in which the
equipment was used was deep or shallow. The gradient was slightly more
successful, with sites 1,3 and 5 following a pattern and with sites 2
and 4 becoming anomalies. I put these down to the fact that we did not
go deep enough into the riverbed; instead we stayed towards the
surface of a layer of shingle. We should have maybe gone deeper. Or
maybe it was down to the person who was taking the readings, as on the
equipment they used, there were several marks from where to record the
data from. Maybe this was the case.
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