Water Cycle

An illustration that water is throughout every earth system

River System

A river and all of it's tributaries

Drainage Basin

All of the land where rain fall will run off into a river system


an imaginary line between two drainage basins

Continental Divide

Splits country in two

Drainage Pattern

Shape the rivers make


Drainage pattern. Like a tree, with progressively bigger rivers, all ending into one large river at the bottom.


Drainage pattern. All rivers moving out from one central spot


Drainage pattern. Rivers flowing into right angles


Drainage pattern. Right angles into major spot

Bed Load

Sediments that are moved along the bottom (bed) of a river. Biggest material.

Modes of Transportation

Ways sediments are moved throughout a river.


Skipping. A combination of bed load and suspended load.

Disolved Load

Particles and sediments disolved into the water.


Removal of sediment. The faster the river moves the more erosion will take place.


When sediment is dropped by a river. When a river slows down, material can no longer be carried and get deposited on the river bed.

Young Rivers

Straight, high velocities, V shaped valley, downcutting


Holes carved into rock at the base of river with a whirlpool action.

Old Rivers

curves and meanders, cutoffs, point bars, cut banks, low gradient

Middle Aged Rivers

Meanders formed, deposition, point bars


Barriers composed of sediments made on either side of a river due to flooding.

Base Level

The elevation to which a river has the ability to erode its bed down to, everywhere along its course, Lowest elevation to which the stream can erode downward, for many streams, the water surface level of the body of water into which they flow


a measure that describes the maximum size of the particles a stream can carry


a low triangular area where a river divides before entering a larger body of water


The volume of water a river transports over a given amount of time.


Process of selection and separation of sediment grains according to their grain size (or grain shape or specific gravity).

Flash Flood

a sudden local flood of great volume and short duration


the rising of a body of water and its overflowing onto normally dry land

Flood Plain

a low plain adjacent to a river that is formed chiefly of river sediment and is subject to flooding


the slope of a river over a certain distance

headward erosion

the process through which land is worn away at the head of streams or gullies

meander scar

The remnants of an old meandering river (without water)


the amount of sediment that a river or stream carries


wide and deep, loop-like bend in the course of a river

Oxbow Lake

a crescent-shaped lake (often temporary) that is formed when a meander of a river is cut off from the main channel

Cut Bank

downstream and outside side of the meander, flows somewhat faster

Stream Piracy

The process by which one stream captures the headwaters of another stream


a mixture in which particles of a material are more or less evenly dispersed throughout a river


a branched river that flows into the main streaming river


a ridge of land that separates two adjacent river systems

Point Bar

deposit of sediment build up by a river on the inside bend of a meander


The total amount of sediment a river can hold.

Fernando De Soto

First European to see the Mississippi River

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