Morphology of River Channel, Transportation and Deposition
A river is defined as a body of running water carrying sediments which flows along a definite path. The path of the river is the river valley. The flow of water in a river is expressed in terms of the volume passing through a point in a given time. This is known as discharge which can be calculated as: Discharge = Velocity x Channel c/s area. In rivers, the nature of flow of water is characterized by the gradient and velocity. Accordingly, there are two types of flow i.e. laminar and turbulent. Laminar flow is possible when the river is having a flat gradient and less velocity. The movement of glacier and ground water are generally laminar in nature. In turbulent flow the motion is random and eddying. A river’s work capacity is governed by its kinetic energy i.e. K.E. = mv2/2 Where, m = mass of water (discharge) The geological activity of water is divided chiefly into three parts as: i. ii. iii. Erosion Transportation and Deposition

Erosion is defined as the sum total of the process of wearing away of the rocks by the physical forces and chemical factors associated with the natural agencies. Important erosional features produced by river action are: a. Pot holes b. Water falls c. River valleys d. Pen plain e. River terraces, etc.


The products both of fluvial erosion and weathering constitute the load of the river which are carried downstream along with the flow of running water are called transportation. It involves both chemical and mechanical transportation. Deposition of the transported materials takes place where the river’s capacity is reduced. It is mainly due to decrease in slope or gradient. River valleys are the outcomes of river erosion. A river valley may be defined as a low land surrounded on sides by inclined hill slopes and mountains. In general, rivers originate in mountainous region and several streams unite to form a river. The present path of a river is called river channel. The channels carved bout by the flow of running water are commonly called river valleys. These are negative landforms of varying shape and size. Three processes such as valley deepening, valley widening and valley lengthening are mainly responsible for development of valleys. All the processes of river erosion cause valley deepening in which the river bed undergoes down-cutting giving rise to a narrow but deep valleys. Valley deepening gives rise to important geological features like gorges or canyons. When the gradient of the river channel reduces, the erosive power of the river to cut downwards becomes less, but the river starts cutting sideways. The process is called valley widening. Lengthening of river valley is achieved by the process of headward erosion where the long profile of the river develops from the base level towards its sources. In the mountainous and hilly regions, the bed rock erosion is maximum i.e. the channel deepens and forms valley with vertical sides. The valley formed by river looks like v-shaped. Erosional features consisting of several step-like plains along the side of a river valley are called river terraces. When rivers flow abruptly from steeper to gentle gradients, at the base of a mountain, its velocity if checked and the huge quantities of minerals carried by the river are dropped there giving to a broad, low, cone-shaped deposit called an alluvial fan. The term alluvial fan is commonly used when the slope of the deposit is below 10° and alluvial cone when the slope is from 10 to 50°.


The areas of low and relatively flat land bordering the channel on one or both sides, at bank level are called flood plains. These areas are readily submerged under water during flood time, when the river water overtops the banks of the channel and rises above the channel at low water. Deposits formed on flood plain by flood water outside the actual channel are known as over bank deposits. When the gradient of a river becomes extremely low, meandering occurs (say in plain areas). In other words, when a stream flows along a curved, zigzag path acquiring a loop shaped course, it is said to meander. The process of development of zigzag type of channel is called river meandering. When meandering joins, it forms a lake called oxbow lake.


Finally, deltas are formed at the mouth of the rivers. Deltas are defined as alluvial deposits of roughly triangular shape that are deposited by major rivers at their mouths i.e. where they enter a sea.

Groundwater Movement and its Origin
The subsurface geology controls the distribution and movement of groundwater. Almost all groundwater can be thought as a part of the hydrologic cycle. Groundwater is not a static collection of water body inside. It is moving slowly in its natural state. This movement is governed by hydraulic principles. The flow through aquifers can be expressed in terms of Darcy’s Law. Hydraulic Conductivity is an important constant in the flow equation. Darcy’s Law is applicable to know groundwater flow rates and directions. Henry Darcy, a French hydraulic engineer, investigated the flow of water through horizontal beds of sand to be used for water filtrations. Statement: The flow rate through porous media is proportional to the head loss and inversely proportional to the length of the flow path i.e. Q α hL ………………………………………….. (i)

Q α 1 / L ………………………………………. (ii) Introducing a proportionality constant K leads to the equation: Q = -KA hL / L ……………………………….(iii) Where, K is hydraulic conductivity which is constant and is a measure of permeability of the porous medium. Where A = cross sectional area of a cylinder hL = head loss L = length of flow path Equation (iii) can be expressed in general terms: The negative term indicates the flow of water in the direction of decreasing head.

Q = -KA



= -K

Or, V = -K

……………………… (iv)

Where, V is the Darcy velocity or specific discharge.

The factor

is called hydraulic gradient. Equation (iv) states the Darcy’s Law in its simplest

form that the flow velocity (V) equals to the product of hydraulic conductivity (K) and the hydraulic gradient (


The head loss is independent of inclination of the cylinder. Actually, the flow is limited by pore space so that the average velocity is given by:

Where, α – porosity

Validity of Darcy’s Law:


Darcy’s Law is applied to laminar flow in porous media. For flow in pipes and other large sections, the Reynold’s number serves as a criterion to distinguish between laminar and turbulent flow. It is a dimensionless ratio of inertial to viscous forces i.e.

Where, NR = Reynold’s Number δ V D μ = Fluid Density = Velocity = Diameter of a pipe = Viscosity of the fluid

Experiments show that Darcy’s Law is valid for NR < 1 and does not depart seriously up to NR = 10, which represents an upper limit to the validity of Darcy’s Law. Fortunately, most natural underground flow occurs with NR <1. Darcy’s Law is applicable. Deviations from Darcy’s Law can occur where steep hydraulic gradient exists, such as near pumped wells. Also, turbulent flow can be found in rocks such as basalt and limestone that contain large underground openings.

Permeability and Porosity
Permeability is the ability of a rock or soil to transmit a fluid. It can be expressed as: (Permeability) K = …………………………… (i)

K = hydraulic conductivity μ = dynamic viscosity δ = fluid density g = acceleration due to gravity We know,


V = -K

where, V is Darcy’s Velocity


So, (i) becomes …………………………………. (ii)

2 Unit: m


Thus, the unit of permeability possesses units of area. Values of K in equation (ii) are so small.
2 -12 2 So, it is generally expressed in square micrometers (μm) = 10 m .

In petroleum industry, the value of K is measured in a unit called Darcy where 1 Darcy = 0.987 (μm)

Water Table: The depth to upper surface of zone of saturation in free groundwater is called water table. It is the surface where water pressure head is equal to the atmospheric water.

Porosity: Usually there is gap between the rock or soil grain arrangement in nature, called voids or pores. These are the places for the ground water. They are characterized by their shape, irregularity and distribution.


The porosity of a rock or soil is a measure of the pores. It is expressed as the ration of the volume of voids to the overall volume of the soil/rock specimen i.e. Porosity (ŋ) = VV / VT x 100% Where, VV = volume of voids VT = total volume of soil It is expressed in percentage. Well-sorted sedimentary deposit possesses high porosity. Well-sorted sedimentary deposits consisting of pebbles have a very high porosity. By fracturing of rocks, porosity increases considerably. In sedimentary rocks, porosity decreases with depth of burial, which can be shown by: ŋz = ŋo e

where, ŋz = porosity at depth ŋo = porosity at the surface A = constant e = base of Naperian logarithm

Aquifer, Acquiclude, Water Level and Piezometric Level


Aquifers: Groundwater holding strata are called aquifers. The water bearing geologic formations or strata which yield significant quantity of water for economic extraction from wells are called aquifers. They contain sufficient saturated permeable material and yield significant quantities of water to wells and springs. This implies that aquifers have an ability to store and to transmit water. Unconsolidated sands and gravels are good examples of aquifers.


Aquifers are generally extensive and may be overlain or underlain by a confining bed which is relatively impermeable material.

Acquiclude: A saturated but relatively impermeable material that does not give appreciable quantities of water to wells is called aquiclude. Clay is an example. Such aquifer can only store water but cannot transmit significant amounts. Shale is another example.


Piezometric Level: The Piezometric surface or potentiometric surface of a confined aquifer is an imaginary surface coinciding with hydrostatic pressure level of the water in the aquifer. The water level in a well penetrating a confined aquifer defines the elevation of the Piezometric surface at that point. If the Piezometric surface lies above ground surface, a flowing well results.

Confined and Unconfined Aquifers
Confined Aquifer: Confined aquifers occur where groundwater is confined under pressure greater than atmospheric by overlying impermeable strata. Confined aquifers are also called artesian or pressure aquifer. In a well penetrating such an aquifer, the water level will rise above the bottom of the confining bed. Water enters a confined aquifer from an area which is exposed to the surface. At the exposed part of the ground, it becomes unconfined aquifer. A region supplying water to a confined aquifer is known as a “Recharge Area”. It should be noted that a confined aquifer becomes an unconfined aquifer when the Piezometric surface falls below the bottom of the upper confining bed.

Unconfined Aquifer:


An unconfined aquifer is one in which a water table varies in undulating form. Rises and falls in a water table correspond to changes in volume of water within an aquifer. In case of an unconfined aquifer, impermeable confining strata are not present.

A special case of an unconfined aquifer involves some impermeable strata anywhere and can preserve certain volume of water. This water may also form a level called “Perched Water Table”.

Springs and Reservoirs
Springs: Springs are usually developed when the ground water oozing out from the ground surface. Springs may be formed as:



Contact Spring: Permeable bed meets the sloping surface of the natural ground or hill. Spring may develop. This type of spring is called contact spring.

2. Dike Spring: When a sloping permeable bed (aquifer) is intersected by a dike, springs may develop. This type of spring is called Dike Spring. 3. Fault Spring: When a sloping permeable bed which is covered by an impermeable bed is faulted, then spring may develop and such type of spring is called Fault Spring. 4. Artesian Springs: These are formed of confined GW forced upward by hydraulic pressure. 5. Karst Spring: In limestone regions, GW forms springs at the surface through widened joint or bedding plane that opens to that surface. 6. Thermal or Hot Springs: These are springs that discharge warm or boiling water to the surface. These are associated with volcanic activity or radio activity. Hot springs are common in geothermal regions. 7. Reservoirs: If the GW does not get chance to flow out, it collects and makes a natural reservoir. By investigation, it can be found easily and can be pumped out for various purposes like drinking water, irrigation, industrial use etc.


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