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To what extent can fluvial landfoms be classified s upper,lower or middle course

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Introduction

To what extent can fluvial landforms be classified as belonging to the upper, middle or lower course of a river? A logical, clear way to classify fluvial landforms is according to the one location where they can be found, but some of these belong to more than one river section. As the river advances, its characteristics and surroundings change and therefore, fluvial landforms are common at only specific river sections. However, some landforms can be found in both the middle and lower courses of a river, product of similar river features found in the different stages of its profile and therefore can be classified in more than one category. The upper course holds unique characteristics which affect the type of fluvial landforms that take place exclusively in this portion of the river profile, showing the cross section of a river from its source to its mouth. The source or beginning of a river is usually a melting glacier or a lake in a mountainous area. It is because of this that the slope or gradient of a river at this stage is rather steep, making water flow downwards at an angle and erosion to be mostly vertical. ...read more.

Middle

As time passes, the less resistant rock will be eroded, creating an overhang or platform which will eventually collapse. These fallen, loose rocks will erode the bottom, due to abrasion, creating a plunge pool and break away by colliding between each other thanks to an erosional process names called attrition. As time passes, the waterfall will retreat upstream and become more prominent. The following diagram illustrates this process in more detail: Likewise, the lower course of a river maintains special conditions that enable particular fluvial landforms to take place. A mature river is the result of many tributaries, resulting in an increase of both discharge and sediment. The cross sectional area of the river is therefore commonly wide, broad and rather shallow. The river gradient is no longer steep and most of the erosion is lateral. The bedload is conformed of smooth, round pebbles so there is less friction is to be overcomed, resulting in a higher velocity and a partially laminar flow. Due to its relatively high discharge it has a higher propensity to overflow and floodplains form at the sides of the river bank. ...read more.

Conclusion

The most common of fluvial landforms, which takes place in both the lower and middle course, are meanders. A meander is a curve in the river channel, where the cross sectional area is asymmetrical. For this landform to take place a floodplain is essential and such is found in the middle and lower sections of a river. This bend enables the fastest flow in the outside of the bend to erode the river bank, creating a cliff. Conversely, the slowest current flows in the inside of the bend and it is deposited, creating a point bar. Over time, processes of erosion and depositions increase the sinuosity of the channel. This is clearly illustrated in the following diagram: Fluvial landforms can be effectively classified according to the section where they are found in a river profile. This is because particular circumstances enable fluvial landforms to take place in the different sections and thus they are more commonly, if not exclusively found there. However, it is important to recognize that some sections share similar characteristics and therefore some landforms can take place in more than one river course. Marielle Alvino ...read more.

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