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Rivers And Whitewater Rapids Essay

1043 words - 4 pages

Rivers all over the United States create geological features that fascinate many people, whether it is for work or for play. Rivers also pose a threat to many towns every year as spring rains and snow melt fill these rivers to beyond capacity, causing them to overflow their banks; flooding the surrounding areas. Rivers may cause floods, however, they also provide many benefits to society. One of the most notable is hydroelectric power, which often leads to a river being dammed. A dammed river creates a reliable location for adventure companies to establish whitewater rafting businesses that utilizes the flow of the river through rapids and scenic views to create a thrill for adventure seeking customers.
A river or “stream, ribbons of water confined to channels, or troughs, cut into the land,” (Marshak, 2009) is formed from a drainage network or “the array of interconnecting streams” that form tributaries. (Marshak, 2009). The amount of water that flows down a stream is its discharge. The discharge measurement takes the width and depths or cross sectional area of a river as well as the downstream velocity to get a numeric value for amount of water moving down stream. (Marshak, 2009)
When a river flows downstream it frequently encounters obstacles and changes in the river channel that form “rapids, particularly turbulent water with a rough surface. Rapids also form where the channel abruptly narrows or its gradient changes, suddenly accelerating the water.”(Marshak, 2009) These changes in the dynamics of the river flow create the rapids that modern day thrill seekers look for.
Obstruction, “a boulder or ledge in the middle of a river or the side can obstruct the flow of the river.” ("International Scale of," 2010). Obstructions in the river’s flow create both safe and extremely dangerous places for whitewater enthusiast as well as many of the obstacles that make whitewater boating so enjoyable. First are Hydraulics that “ are formed when water pours over the top of a submerged object, causing the water downstream to flow back over the top of the water which rushes over submerged object.” ("International Scale of," 2010). Hydraulics also have a subset called Holes “because their foamy, aerated water provides less buoyancy and can feel like an actual hole in the river surface.” ("Whitewater," 2011). Hydraulics creates some of the most dangerous places in the whitewater, but obstructions also create safer places called eddies, which is a place behind an obstruction where water is calm. Eddies have a circular motion like a hole or hydraulics, however, the eddies’ circular motion forms on the horizontal plain like filling a pot with water and running a spoon around the inside edge to stir the water. ("Whitewater," 2011). By increasing the rate at which you stir the water creates the same situation as a faster flowing river, a “swirling current which can flip boats and from which escape can be very difficult.”...

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