Define fluvial and outline the fluvial processes: erosion, transportation, and deposition (2023)


River systems, fluvialprocesses and landscapes, floodplains, and river control strategies areimportant to human populations as demands for limited water resources increase.Stream-related processes are called fluvial (from the Latin word fluvius =river).

Water dislodges,dissolves, or removes surface material in the process called erosion.Streams produce fluvial erosion, in which weathered sediment is pickedup for transport, and movement to new locations. Sediments are laid downby another process, deposition. Alluvium is the general term forthe clay, silt, and sand deposited by running water.


Thebasic fluvial system is a drainage basin, the spatial geomorphic areaoccupied by a river system. The drainage basis is an open system. Drainagedivides define the watershed catchment (water receiving) areaof the drainage basin. In any drainage basin, water initially moves downslopein a thin film called sheetflow, or overland flow. This surfacerunoff concentrates in rills, or small-scale downhill grooves, which maydevelop into deeper gullies and a stream course in avalley.

Highground that separates one valley from another and directs sheetflow is termedan interfluve. Extensive mountain and highland regions act as continentaldivides that separate major drainage basins. Drainage pattern refersto the arrangement of channels in an area as determined by the steepness,variable rock resistance, variable climate, hydrology, relief of the land, andstructural controls imposed by the landscape. There are seven basic drainagepatterns generally found in nature: 1. dendritic, 2. trellis, 3. radial, 4.parallel, 5. rectangular, 6. annular, and 7. deranged.

Streamchannels vary in width and depth. The streams that flow inthem vary in velocity and in the sediment load they carry. All of thesefactors may increase with increasing discharge. Discharge is calculatedby multiplying the velocity of the stream by its width and depth for a specificcross section of the channel.


a)Hydraulic action is the work of turbulence in thewater. Running water causes hydraulic squeeze-and-release action to loosen andlift rocks and sediment. As this debris moves along, the river mechanicallyerodes the streambed further with the load it is carrying through a process of b)abrasion. c) Solution refers to the dissolved load ofa stream, especially the chemical solution derived from minerals such aslimestone or dolomite or from soluble salts. The suspended load consistsof fine-grained, clastic particles held aloft in the stream, with the finestparticles held in suspension until the stream velocity slows nearly to zero. Bedload refers to coarser materials that are dragged along the stream bed by 1)traction or are rolled and bounced along by 2) saltation.If the load in a stream exceeds its capacity, aggradation occurs, or theaccumulation of excess sediment, as deposition fills the stream channel. Withexcess sediment, a stream becomes a maze of interconnected channels that form abraided stream pattern.


(Video) RIVER EROSION, TRANSPORTATION & DEPOSITION - Fluvial Processes - AQA GCSE 9-1 Geography 2019

Wherethe slope is gradual, stream channels develop a sinuous form called a meanderingstream. The outer portion of each meandering curve is subject to thefastest water velocity and can be the site of a steep undercut bank. Onthe other hand, the inner portion of a meander experiences the slowest watervelocity and forms a point bar deposit. When a meander neck is cut off astwo undercut banks merge, the meander becomes isolated and forms an oxbowlake.


Everystream develops its own gradient and establishes a longitudinal profile.A portion of the stream is designated a graded stream when the stream isadjusted among available discharge, channel characteristics, its velocity, andthe load supplied from the drainage basin. An interruption in a stream’slongitudinal profile is called a nickpoint. A nickpoint can develop asthe stream flows across hard resistant rock or after tectonic uplift episodes.


Floodplainshave been an important site of human activity throughout history. Rich soils,bathed in fresh nutrients by floodwaters, attract agricultural activity andurbanization. Despite our knowledge of historical devastation by floods,floodplains are settled, raising issues of human hazard perception. The flat,low-lying area along a stream channel that is subjected to recurrent floodingis a floodplain. It is formed when the river overflows its channelduring times of high flow. On either bank of most streams, natural leveesdevelop as by-products of flooding. During floods when the river overflows itsbanks, it loses velocity as it spreads out and drops a portion of its sedimentload to form levees. On the floodplain, backswamps and yazootributaries may develop. Alluvial terraces are giant steps on eachside of a river formed by the entrenchment of a river into its own floodplain.


Adepositional plain formed at the mouth of a river is called a delta.Each flood stage deposits a new layer of alluvium at the mouth of the riversometimes choking the river flow. This forces the river to break up intoseveral distributaries. There are several kinds of deltas:

<![if !supportLists]>a) <![endif]>TheNile river (Africa) and Danube river (Europe) have an Arcuate Delta(arc-shaped).

<![if !supportLists]>b) <![endif]>TheSeine river (France) has an Estuarine Delta, seaward mouth of a delta. When themouth of a river enters the sea and is inundated by the sea in a mix withfreshwater and very little delta, it is called an estuary.

<![if !supportLists]>c) <![endif]>TheMississippi rive has a bird-foot delta. A long channel with manydistributaries and sediments carried beyond the tip of the delta into thesea.

(Video) Geological work of River or Stream- Erosion, Transportation and Deposition processes| Geo Lectures


Aflood occurs when high water overflows the natural or artificial leveesof a stream and spreads out into its flood plain. Both floods and thefloodplains they might occupy are rated statistically for the expected timeinterval between floods. A 10-year flood is the greatest level of flooding thatis likely once every 10 years. A graph of stream discharge over time for aspecific place is called a hydrograph. Collective efforts by governmentagencies undertake to reduce flood probability. Such management attempts includethe construction of artificial levees, bypasses, straightened channels,diversions, dams, and reservoirs. Society still is learning how to live ina sustainable way with Earth’s dynamic river systems.


1.What role is played by rivers in the hydrologic cycle?

2.What are the five largest rivers on Earth in terms of discharge? Relate theseto the weather patterns in each area and to regional potentialevapotranspiration (moisture demand) and precipitation (moisture supply).

3.Define fluvial. What is a fluvial process?

4.What is the sequence of events that takes place as a stream dislodges material?

5.According to Figure 11-3, in which drainage basin are you located? Where areyou in relation to the various continental divides?

6.What is the spatial geomorphic unit of an individual river system? How is itdetermined on the landscape? Define the several relevant key terms used.

7.On Figure 11-3, follow the Allegheny-Ohio-Mississippi river systems to the Gulfof Mexico, analyze the pattern of tributaries, and describe the channel. Whatrole do continental divides play in this drainage?

(Video) Fluvial Depositional Environments & Stratigraphy | GEO GIRL

8.Describe drainage patterns. Define the various patterns that commonly appear innature. What drainage patterns exist in your hometown? Where you attend school?

9.What was the impact of flood discharge on the channel of the San Juan Rivernear Bluff, Utah? Why did these changes take place?

10.How does stream discharge complete its erosive work? What are the processes atwork in the channel?

11.Differentiate between stream competence and stream capacity.

12.How does a stream transport its sediment load? What processes are at work?

13.Describe the flow characteristics of a meandering stream. What is the patternof flow in the channel? What are the erosional and depositional features andthe typical landforms created?

14.Explain these statements: (a) All streams have a gradient, but not all streamsare graded. (b) Graded streams may have ungraded segments.

15.Why is Niagara Falls an example of a nickpoint? Without human intervention,what do you think would eventually take place at Niagara Falls?

16.Apply these concepts (gradient, graded stream, meandering stream, nickpoint),where appropriate to a stream in your area. Explain and discuss.

17.Describe the formation of a floodplain. How are natural levees, oxbow lakes,backswamps, and yazoo tributaries produced?

(Video) River Erosion, Transport and

18.Howis it possible to travel fewer kilometers on the Mississippi River between St.Louis and New Orleans today than 100 years ago? Explain.

19.Describeany floodplains near where you live or where you go to college. Have you seenany of the floodplain features discussed in this chapter? If so, which ones?

20.What is a river delta? What are the various deltaic forms? Give some examples.

21.Howmight life in New Orleans change in the next century? Explain.

22.Describethe Ganges River delta. What factors upstream explain its form and pattern?Assess the consequences of settlement on this delta.

23.Whatis meant by the statement, “the Nile Delta is receding” (caption Figure 11-21)?

24.Specifically, what is a flood? How are such flows measured and tracked?

25.Differentiatebetween a hydrograph from a natural terrain and one from an urbanized area.

26.What do you see as the major consideration regarding floodplain management? Howwould you describe the general attitude of society toward natural hazards anddisasters?

27.What do youthink the author of the article “Settlement Control Beats Flood Control” meantby the title? Explain your answer, using information presented in the chapter.

(Video) River Erosion and Deposition


What is fluvial process? ›

fluvial process, the physical interaction of flowing water and the natural channels of rivers and streams. Such processes play an essential and conspicuous role in the denudation of land surfaces and the transport of rock detritus from higher to lower levels.

What are the three fluvial processes? ›

Define fluvial and outline the fluvial processes: erosion, transportation, and deposition.

What is the process of fluvial erosion? ›

Fluvial erosion is the detachment of material of the river bed and the sides. Erosion starts when the flow energy of the water exceeds the resistance of the material of the river bed and banks. Flow energy depends on depth of water and gradient and thus of stream velocity.

What is fluvial deposition? ›

Fluvial deposits are sediments that are transported and deposited by rivers in a continental environment (Fig. 7.1).

What are the 4 fluvial processes? ›

​Fluvial processes involved in river valley and river channel formation: erosion (vertical and lateral), weathering and mass movement, transportation and deposition and factors affecting these processes (climate, slope, geology, altitude, aspect).

What are the 4 processes of fluvial transportation? ›

Rivers transport material in four ways:
  • Solution - minerals are dissolved in the water and carried along in solution. ...
  • Suspension - fine light material is carried along in the water.
  • Saltation - small pebbles and stones are bounced along the river bed.
  • Traction - large boulders and rocks are rolled along the river bed.

What are the 4 fluvial erosion? ›

Erosion There are four ways that a river erodes; hydraulic action, corrosion, corrosion and attrition.

What is fluvial transport? ›

Fluvial sediment transport is the study of the interaction between channelized, unidirectional flows of relatively clear water and natural, generally non-cohesive, sediment.

How many fluvial processes are there? ›

The three fluvial processes are erosion, transportation and deposition. Erosion is the process in which materials are removed by an agent. Transportation is the process in which eroded materials are carried away.

Where is fluvial process? ›

The fluvial process is the physical interaction between the flowing water and the natural channels of flowing water such as rivers and streams.

Is deposition a fluvial process? ›

Fluvial deposition is encouraged by several factors: A river carrying a large load will deposit more than a river carrying a small load as the amount of load provides the material for deposition. The geology of the area through which the river is flowing we impact upon the amount of load.

What causes fluvial deposition? ›

Fluvial deposits are sediments deposited by the flowing water of a stream.

What are the types of fluvial transportation? ›

  • Solution - minerals are dissolved in the water and carried along in solution.
  • Suspension - fine light material is carried along in the water.
  • Saltation - small pebbles and stones are bounced along the river bed.
  • Traction - large boulders and rocks are rolled along the river bed.

What means fluvial? ›

: of, relating to, or living in a stream or river. : produced by the action of a stream.

What is an example of fluvial erosion? ›

Gorges, canyons, waterfalls, rapids, and river capture are examples of eroded fluvial landforms. Natural levees, floodplains, oxbow lakes, deltas, and other fluvial depositional landforms. Landforms known as fluvial erosional landforms are the result of river erosion.

What are the forms of erosion? ›

Rainfall produces four types of soil erosion: splash erosion, sheet erosion, rill erosion, and gully erosion.

What is deposition in geography? ›

Deposition is the laying down of sediment carried by wind, flowing water, the sea or ice. Sediment can be transported as pebbles, sand and mud, or as salts dissolved in water.

What causes fluvial erosion? ›

Fluvial erosion is erosion caused by rivers and streams, and can range from gradual bank erosion to catastrophic changes in river channel location and dimension during flood events.

What is erosion transportation and deposition? ›

Hint: Erosion is the action of surface processes that remove soil, rock or dissolved material from one location on the Earth's crust, such as water flow or wind, and then move it to another location. A deposition is a geological mechanism in which a landform or land mass is attached to sediments, soil, and rocks.

What are the 4 main types of transportation? ›

Air, Road, Sea and Rail. These are the four major modes of transport (or types) in the logistics industry.

What are the processes of transportation? ›

There are four types of transportation :
  • Traction - large, heavy pebbles are rolled along the river bed. ...
  • Saltation - pebbles are bounced along the river bed, most commonly near the source .
  • Suspension - lighter sediment is suspended (carried) within the water, most commonly near the mouth of the river.

What are the 5 stages of erosion? ›

The water erosion process consists of discrete stages from rain drop impact to the formation of gully erosion. Each stage has its own processes and characteristics.
In this Topic
  • Gully Erosion. Gully erosion is responsible for removing vast amounts of soil.
  • Rill Erosion. ...
  • Sheet Erosion. ...
  • Splash Erosion. ...
  • Tunnel Erosion.
25 Feb 2014

How do the rivers cause erosion transportation and deposition? ›

Erosion and deposition by slow-flowing rivers creates broad floodplains and meanders. Deposition by streams and rivers may form alluvial fans and deltas. Floodwaters may deposit natural levees. Erosion and deposition by groundwater can form caves and sinkholes.

What are fluvial depositional landforms? ›

Fluvial depositional landforms are created from combinations of specific sedimentary processes and depositional environments. Two major categories of fluvial sedimentary processes are overbank and lateral accretion mechanisms, influenced by drainage basin and local hydraulic controls.

What are factors affecting fluvial processes? ›

Climate and runoff, geomorphological structure and properties of the territory's cover rocks, soil and vegetation cover, modern tectonic movements and fluctuations of base level marks are the main natural factors of fluvial processes.

What are the features of fluvial erosion? ›

Fluvial Erosional Landforms are landforms created by the erosional activity of rivers. Various aspects of fluvial erosive action include: Hydration:the force of running water wearing down rocks. Corrosion:chemical action that leads to weathering.

Which is the most effective fluvial erosion process? ›

Abrasion is the most effective fluvial erosion process. Abrasion is when sediment being transported by a river or stream brushes across rock or soil in a river bed or river bank until the bank or bed starts to erode. Abrasion is more effective because water and sediment work together in the erosion process.

Which of the following are types of fluvial erosion? ›

The four main types of river erosion are abrasion, attrition, hydraulic action and solution. Abrasion is the process of sediments wearing down the bedrock and the banks.

What are the processes of transportation deposition? ›

TRANSPORT: Moving material. The force of the flowing water moves the mud, sand, pebbles and silt created by erosion. DEPOSITION: Dumping material. The sand, mud, pebbles and silt being transported by the river is eventually dropped.

What are 3 types of deposition? ›

The type of sediment indicates the environment of deposition. There are three major environments of deposition: marine, transitional and continental.

What is the process of deposition called? ›

Deposition is the phase transition in which gas transforms into solid without passing through the liquid phase. Deposition is a thermodynamic process. The reverse of deposition is sublimation and hence sometimes deposition is called desublimation.

What are three causes of deposition? ›

Wind, ice, water, and gravity transport previously weathered surface material, which, at the loss of enough kinetic energy in the fluid, is deposited, building up layers of sediment.

What causes erosion? ›

What Causes Erosion? Soil erosion occurs primarily when dirt is left exposed to strong winds, hard rains, and flowing water. In some cases, human activities, especially farming and land clearing, leave soil vulnerable to erosion.

What are the different types of transportation? ›

  • Buses. Many rural communities use buses as the primary vehicle for their public transportation systems, operating fixed-route service on a regular schedule. ...
  • Passenger Train Service. ...
  • Passenger Air Service. ...
  • Personal Vehicles. ...
  • Pedestrian Transportation. ...
  • Boats. ...
  • Resources to Learn More.

What are the 5 modes of transportation? ›

The different modes of transport are air, water, and land transport, which includes rails or railways, road and off-road transport. Other modes also exist, including pipelines, cable transport, and space transport.

What is the example of fluvial? ›

Fluvial Erosional Landforms: Gorges, canyons waterfalls, rapids and river capture etc. Fluvial Depositional Landforms: Floodplains, oxbow lakes, natural levees and Delta etc.

Where does fluvial erosion take place? ›

It is a feature if rivers that are supplied with large loads of sand and gravel. It is most likely to occur when a river has variable discharges. The banks formed from sand and gravel are generally unstable and easily eroded.

What is an outline of river erosion? ›

Erosion is the process that wears away the river bed and banks. Erosion also breaks up the rocks that are carried by the river. ... Abrasion - When pebbles grind along the river bank and bed in a sand-papering effect. Attrition - When rocks that the river is carrying knock against each other.

What does fluvial mean in geology? ›

Fluvial describes sediments that have been deposited by a stream or river.

What is fluvial processes and landforms? ›

In geography and geology, fluvial processes are associated with rivers and streams and the deposits and landforms created by them. When the stream or rivers are associated with glaciers, ice sheets, or ice caps, the term glaciofluvial or fluvioglacial is used.

What are depositional landforms? ›

Depositional landforms are the visible evidence of processes that have deposited sediments or rocks after they were transported by flowing ice or water, wind or gravity. Examples include beaches, deltas, glacial moraines, sand dunes and salt domes.


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