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Discipline course -1

Semester -1
Paper – Geomorphology
Lesson- Fluvial landforms
Lesson Developer:Dr.Prabuddh Kr. Mishra

College /Department: Bhim Rao Ambedkar College
University of Delhi

Institute of Lifelong Learning , University of Delhi

Erosive Work of River 4. University of Delhi . Evolution of Landforms 4. Introduction 2. Fluvial Processes 5.1 Fluvial landforms 1.Table of Contents 4. The Process of River Action 3. Fluvial Landform River valley Floodplains Delta  Summery  Exercise  References Institute of Lifelong Learning .

2.sand. d) They transport the matter which they have dissolved. 1.e. Fluvial landforms 1. b) They are responsible for much of the denudation of the land surface over large parts of the earth. which are rolled along the river bed. Rivers and their associated streams undertake some important physical functions: a) By draining the land surface they dispose the super fulvous water brought by precipitation. They deposit some of the materials which they have carried in suspension or roll along stream bed. Material in solution. silt and mud are carried along suspended in the water as the stream flows. it carries with it eroded materials. it includes the work of both overland flow and stream flow. Fluvial landforms and processes dominate the continental land surface. by the fluvial processes of overland flow and stream flow) are called fluvial landforms. Institute of Lifelong Learning . and may be divided into three distinct types. The Traction load. The Process of River Action When a river flows. 2. stones. rocks and boulders.this includes coarser materials such as pebbles. Introduction The adjective 'fluvial' (from Latin fluvius river) refers to the work of rivers but in the context of landscape development.these are minerals which are dissolved in the water. c) They dissolve and erode the rocks over which they flow. 3. certain topographic features are produced which are called fluvial topography. and sediment entering is balanced by leaving. Thus landforms shaped by running water (i. These comprise the river’s load. Materials in suspension. As a result of all this. University of Delhi .

The courser boulder is broken down into smaller pieces/stones. The force of moving water dislodges the rocks. But it should be remembered that most rocks contain minerals which are soluble in water. The movement of rivers is thus intermittent. The larger the particles of the load. the velocity of the flow and lastly the size. The ability of river to move the various grades of materials depends greatly upon the volume of the water. The erosional work of running water acts in several different ways. 3. its transporting power is increased by more than 10 times. more than 200 tons of solid materials in suspension and more than 50 tons of materials in solution are being carried off by running water every year. We can see this mud that colours the river water during a heavy rain. University of Delhi . and solution of rocks in tropical humid regions is especially important. However it is not uncommon to find angular particles of large size in the lower sections of a river course.It has been estimated that for every square mile of earth’s surface. It is also able to weaken solid rocks by surging into cracks in the rock. Abrasion: Rock particles carried by a river are thrown against the sides of the channel and are dragged along the rock bed. Erosive Work of River In rivers. the solvent action of water as it flows over the rock. the more rapid are the erosion. Solution or corrosion i. During the floods the amount of rock debris swept off by rivers is very much greater. comprising the following inter- acting processes. acting vigorously in certain parts of the year and remaining less active at other times. This causes further erosion further erosion which adds to load. Hydraulic Action: is performed by lifting and quarrying effect of rushing water. erosion and transportation go on simultaneously. It is said that by doubling the velocity of a river. Institute of Lifelong Learning .. But hydraulic action effects very little erosion if the river has little or no load. shape and weight of the load. Solution is particularly well developed in lime stone regions.e. Attrition: This is the wear and tears of the transported materials themselves when they roll and collide into one another.

Fluvial Processes These above mentioned four processes together make up river erosion which enables a river to cut a channel into the land. In its upper course the river flows through mountains or hilly areas. 3. This is particularly effective along the outside banks of meanders.  Crevasse splays  Gorge-Canyon River slope is gentle compared to  Ox-bow lake  Cataract youthful valley. This stage is also called the youthful stages.1 Distinct Course of River The Upper Mountain Course The Middle or Valley Course The lower or Plain Course Erosional Topographic Lateral corrasion tends to replace Depositional Features Features vertical corrasion.  Levees  V. River in its middle and lower course produce variety of landforms as listed in Table 1. 2. University of Delhi . Headward or regressive erosion by streams and gullies. Here the slope is steep and the velocity of river water is great. Vertical erosion Channel deepening or by down cutting of the streambed. Table. Lateral erosion Channel widening through bank caving or undercutting. River erosion operates or streams erode by three ways: 1. the Brahmaputra and the Indus from Lake Mansarowar. The rivers assume a high speed. namely. 5. 4.Shaped Valley Transposition and Deposition. River valley Characteristics and Landforms Usually a river has its source in a lake or spring or a glacier. by which river increases its length. some of the world's very large rivers originate from lakes. Headward erosion It is also known as channel extension. So the most prominent feature in this stage is vertical erosion.  Delta  Waterfalls and Rapids  Truncated Spurs  Plunge Pool  U-shaped valleys  Structural Benches  Meandering  River Cliff  Meander Terraces  Slip off Slopes  Flood Plain  Riffle Institute of Lifelong Learning .

Down-cutting takes place so rapidly that lateral erosion cannot keep place.. when huge mountain Institute of Lifelong Learning . produced by rapid cutting and deepening stream The U-shaped valley symbolizes the English letter ‘U’.blogspot. University of Delhi . The three most common types of valleys are V-shaped valleys. In some cases where rocks are very The valley is narrow and deep V. the Indus gorge of Kashmir. At different course of the river.River Valley Valleys are steep-sided depressions or broad plains in the earth’s surface formed due to erosional work of the river and are surrounded by mountains. The floors are generally is broad and flat. comparatively narrow (vertical corrasion) and the steepy rising valley sides. This valley type is found in the middle course of the river where lateral erosion is predominant than the vertical erosion. The V-shaped valley usually exhibits definite characteristics in the initial it forms different types of valleys. Grand Canyon in southwestern USA is also a classic example of V-shaped valley. which gave rise to this Grand Canyon. Fig 1: V-shaped River Valley Floor ( Source: . River valleys are one of the most common forms of landforms formed by water (fluvial). geobytesgcse. The Colorado River has deeply cut the Colorado Plateau through ages. the valley is so narrow and the sides are so steep that gorges are formed e. U-shaped valleys and flat floored valleys. Resemblance to English letter ‘V’. These valleys are steep-sided with curves at the valley floor. shaped in Transverse profile. These valleys are also formed out of the glacial erosion.

oldfieldslimestone. Fig. One of the examples of this type of valley is Yosemite Valley in California. A stream flowing at a moderate to low gradient tends to erode the sides of the river rather than the bottom of it. with time the steep-sided v- shaped valley turns into a broad. resulting in wider and deeper valleys. When glaciers (especially the alpine glaciers) move down slowly from the mountains along the pre-existing river or the v- shaped Institute of Lifelong Learning . Fig 3: Flat Floored river valley (Source: www. flat floored river valley. they turn these valleys into U-shaped. Thus.scalloway. An excellent example of this type of valley is Nile River The flat-floored valleys are formed in the ‘matured ‘stage of the river course. These valleys are also called as glacial troughs when formed with moved down slowly from the mountain slopes during last glaciations. University of Delhi . 2 U-Shaped river Valley (Source: . Here the stream channel becomes gentler. the river soon forms S- shaped bends in the valley floors known as meanders. Thus.

org) Fig 4b: Picture showing the surrounding floodplain of a river (Source: www. levees. During annual or sporadic flood. gradually building up a fertile floodplain.Floodplains Floodplain is a depositional feature by large quantities of sediments carried by rivers in their lower course. A layer of sediment is thus deposited during each flood. University of Delhi . Rivers in their lower course carry large quantities of sediments. bluffs etc.oas. these materials are spread over the low lying adjacent The floodplains are characterized by several landforms like on-bow lakes. When the river flows normally its bed is raised through the accumulation of deposits and material is also dropped on the sides forming raised bank called levees. Fig 4a: Landforms surrounding the alluvial floodplain (source: ) Institute of Lifelong Learning .

Nature and rate of delta growth depends on a variety of factors e. The size of delta depends on the rock characteristics. Fig 5: Deltas (Source: www.Deltas The depositional feature of almost triangular shape at the mouth of a river debouching either in a lake or a sea is called delta.sln. The word delta has been derived from a Greek letter. University of Delhi . 5) Large amount of sediments supply. rate of erosion etc. All these channels are called distributaries. The size of delta of major and small rivers all over the world varies from a few sq kilometer to 1000 sq. the Ganga Delta in India and Bangladesh).org.. kilometer (eg.g. 2) Long courses of the river 3) Medium size of sediments 4) Relatively calm or sheltered sea at the mouth of the The ideal condition for the formation and growth of delta includes: 1) Suitable place in the form of shallow sea and lake shores. vegetal cover. 6) Accelerated rate of erosion in the catchment area of the concerned river 7) Almost stable condition of sea coast and oceanic bottom As deposition goes on the river is forced to divide into several channels each of which repeated by divides. Stretches of sea or lake become surrounded by deposited sediments and these are filled in with sediments when they may persist for sometimes as swamps. Institute of Lifelong Learning .

a. sand and silt. deltas are classified into four major types: 1. Indus delta. It the sea is shallow it grows. Arcuate Delta Such deltas are like on arc of a circle or a bow and are of lobate form in appearance where in middle portion has maximum extent towards the sea whereas they narrow down towards the margins. Examples of this kind of delta are Niger delta. but in reality their shape shows great variations on the basis of the difference in forms. Native of sea waves c. Such deltas are often found in semi-arid climatic regions. Fig 6: Delta of River Nile. University of Delhi .weebly. This has a frontal growth. It has always a number of distributaries. Slope and heights of deltas Classification of Delta Though commonly the deltas are triangular in shape and resemble with the Greek letter Delta. Such deltas are formed when the river water is as dense as the sea water. The arcuate or semi-circular shape is also given to such deltas by sea waves and oceanic currents. Nile delta. Hwang-Ho delta etc. within the sea. Supply of Sediments d. Velocity of the steam flow b. Mekong delta. Arcuate deltas are formed out of coarser materials like gravels. This delta is also the most common delta and resembles the Greek letter Delta. Oceanic currents e. Ganga delta. Yellow delta. Egypt (Source: Institute of Lifelong Learning . Leena delta Irrawaddy delta.

2. The fine sediments enter the sea for considerable distances on account of the speed of the river. This river flows through areas of limestone and other fine-grained sedimentary rocks. Ob delta (USSR). therefore. River Vistula (Poland). carries considerable quantities of limestones and other fine grained particles. Hudson delta is also an example of this type. Bird-foot Deltas are formed. a narrow linear delta is formed as a result of deposition of the sediments. Estuarine Delta An estuarine delta develops in the mouth of a submerged river. 3. But when the mouth of the river is submerged below the sea. in Ethiopia is the best example of this type. The deltas of Narmada and Tapi rivers of India are the examples of estuarine deltas. The river channel divides into a few distributaries only and these maintain clearly defined channels across the delta. The Mississippi river flows into the Gulf of Mexico for some distance in a single channel and then divides itself into form distributaries with deposits along the side of the distributaries channel resulting in formation of the finger-shaped delta. It. There is a continuous struggle between the rivers and the sea waves wherein the former deposits sediments while the latter remove them. Examples of this type can be seen along the mouth of the Seine River in France and the Susquehanna along the eastern coast of USA. but on account of the saline water of the sea tend to get deposited on both sides of the steam channel and thus. It takes the shape of estuary when the river enters the sea through a single mouth or estuary. Institute of Lifelong Learning . The river Mississippi and Omo River. University of Delhi . They are formed due to the deposition of finer particles called as silt. a long and narrow delta is formed. Normally the estuary is open and the river sediments are removed by the waves and currents. which are kept in suspension in the river water which is lights than the sea water. and the estuary is filled up with sediments. Bird’s Foot Delta Delta of this types resembles the fingers of a human hand or the foot of birds and hence its name.

abrasion. hydraulic action. River deltas have been important to humans for thousands of years because of their extremely fertile soils. This is carried along by saltation. fishing and living areas for area inhabitants. Institute of Lifelong Learning . downslope movements and rivers shape the landscape. and solution. volume and channel shape. A good example of this type of delta is a delta of Tiber River in Italy. Many people believe that the ancient Greek historian Herodotus first coined the term delta nearly 2. They are the most important agents of transportation. Thus on both sides the projected mouth of the river are formed curved deposits which are concave towards the sea. animals.  The slope of a river channel is adjusted by erosion and deposition to attain a state of grade. 4. but the sediments brought by the river are deposited and spread on both sides of its mouth by the waves.  A river’s flow comes from its energy.  All the material carried by a river is called its load. transportation and deposition. The areas around deltas are often highly fertile. Cuspate or Tooth-shaped Delta In this type of Delta the deposit is along the main channel and the delta projects into the sea. offering farming. Summary  Rivers are agent of erosion. insects and fish that live in them. and its energy is related to gradient. suspension and solution.500 years ago as many deltas are shaped like the Greek delta (∆) symbol (Encyclopedia Britannica). In addition to these human uses river deltas are some of the most biodiverse areas on the planet and as such it is essential that they remain healthy to provide habitat for the many species of plants.  A river erodes by the processes of attrition. Major ancient civilizations grew along deltas such as those of the Nile and the Tigris-Euphrates rivers and the people living in them learned how to live with the natural flooding cycles of deltas. University of Delhi . Weathering.

Institute of Lifelong Learning . river cliffs. maturity and old stage? Illustrate some of the more outstanding features with diagrams and examples.  Explain any three of the following a) Explain the ways in which in which river erosion occurs.  Outline the types of delta and its formation. canyons and interlocking spurs (usually in conjunction with rock structure). c) The work of the river in the lower course is mainly depositional.  What do you mean by delta? Discuss the ideal condition for the formation and growth of delta. University of Delhi . describe the process of river action along the course of a river from its course to its mouth. lengthens and widens the valley.  Name the three features that are produced by river erosion and explain any one in detail.  By reference to specific examples. and major features such as valley.  Write a short note on river valley and flood plains. plunge pools. Headward erosion is the down cutting at the head of the stream.  A river’s velocity is increased if the gradient steepens and is decreased when the river enters a lake or the sea. cutting off a stretch of a river.  Base level is limit to which a river can erode the elevation of its mouth. knick points. called meanders form. it lengthens the valley. Exercises  What are the characteristics features you would expect to find in a river valley at the stage of youth. waterfalls.  River erosion produces minor features such as pot holes. gorge. b) Vertical corrasion is dominant in the upper course of a river.  River erosion deepens. Developing meanders may intersect. The valley widens by creep and landsliding and by lateral cutting by the stream.  River deposition produces minor features such as levees and slip-offs slopes. forming ox-bow lake.  Distinctive curves. which distribute the river’s loss of energy most uniformly. rapids. and major features flood plains and delta.

University of Delhi .. Institute of Lifelong Learning . The channel divides and rejoins many times. Arthur L. Prayag Pustak Bhawan. India. (2003) Geomorphology: A Systematic Analysis of Late Cenozoic Landforms. J.Delhi. First Indian Reprint. A. Oxford University Press. Strahler 1978. Strahler and A. Lyell Book Dept.A. Leong G. The Unstable Earth. Pearson Education. K. Modern Physical Geography. Braded streams form when load is large and coarse for the slope and discharge. looping bend in a river • Braided: river is divided into multiple channels by alluvial islands. 2001. Patna. Allahabad.B. Kale V.N. A Text Book of Geomorphology. Steers. Geomorphology. Delhi: Pearson Education (Singapore) Pvt.C. Ltd. Physical Geography. 1961. P. S. Bharatdwaj. Bunnett. Lake. Oxford India. 1959. Ludhiana. Calcutta. 1976. Shukla Book Dept. Bloom. roughly triangular body of sediment deposited at the mouth of a river • Meander : a broad. 2006. Elements of Geomorphology. 1965. R. and Gupta.Glossary • Tributary: a stream flowing into or joining a larger stream • Distributaries: numerous stream branches into which a river divides where it reaches its delta • Upstream : moves toward headwater (up the regional slope of erosion) • Downstream : moves toward mouth of river (delta) • Delta : a large. Physical Geography in Diagrams. John Wiley. References Singh.R. Macmillion and Co Limited.Discovery Publishing House.1998. 2006 Physical Geography: Introduction to Earth. Dayal. A. P. Certificate Physical and Human Geography.

http://myweb. New York.htm Institute of Lifelong Learning .co. and Christiansen.html 13. A. (1984) Geomorphology. O. andforms_of_the_middle_reaches. Upper Saddle River..htm 7.Chorley. David E. 9. Ltd. and Sugden. (2001) Earth’s Dynamic Systems. Richard J.about.weebly. (2002) Physical Geography: Science and Systems of the Human Environment. Geomorphology. www.html#ixzz2efqWitNU 3. www.scalloway. A.sciencedirect. London: Methuen & Co. and Strahler. http://geography.ehow.htm 5.blogspot. John Wiley and Sons.blogspot. von. E. Suggested Readings Strahler. Engeln. New Jersey. http://www. http://www. 11. oldfieldslimestone. D. University of Delhi .com/landforms. geobytesgcse.htm 4. 12. (1960) New York: The Macmillan H.britannica. W. Prentice Hall. Stanley A. Web Links 1.oas. www.