The Physical Characteristics Of A River

3215 words - 13 pages

The Physical Characteristics of a River


River Features are elements of the landscape produced by fluvial
processes-that is, the action of running water as it flows through the
channels forming the drainage network of a river basin, eroding,
transporting, and depositing sediment. (Source from Microsoft Encarta
Encyclopedia 2001)

A useful way to study a river is to look at its long profile and its
cross sectional profile. The long profile of a river is a section
drawn along the length of a river from its source to its mouth.
Usually, a long profile has three parts:

â— Upper course or mountain tract

â— Middle course or valley tract

â— Lower course or plain tract

However, in Hong Kong most of the rivers are short and their gradients
change abruptly. These rivers have two courses only, the upper and
lower courses. Not all rivers have three well-defined stages. Some
reach base level direct from stage 1 (Base level is the lowest level
down to where a river can erode). Others arise amid lowlands. The
diagram below shows typical changes in the river channel:


The table on the next page lists out the features produced by river
processes in each course.

The Long Profile of a River

Upper Course

Middle Course

Lower Course

* V shaped valley

* Steep gradient

* Vertical erosion

* Flows between interlocking spurs

* Flood water rises high in valley

* In flood, river moves boulders

* Small discharge

* Small boulders help to wear bed and banks

* Load more angular and larger

* Pebbels wear potholes in bed

* Uneven bed; water flow turbulent. Much energy used overcoming

* Waterfalls and rapids

* Valley wider and straighter; spurs have becomebluffs

* Lower gradient

* Lateral erosion and transport dominant

* Floodplain beginning to develop

* River cliffs and slip-off slopes

* Extra water from tributaries (more load carried)

* Decrease in particle size of load; becoming rounder

* Bed smoother; still turbulent; friction still high

* Water flows freely in centre of channel

* Balance between deposition and erosion depends on load and speed
of flow

* Valley wide and flat

* Very gentle gradient

* Much of the load deposited

* River meanders over valley floor

* Floods spread alluvium over flood plain

* Divides into shallow channels about gravely deposits (braiding)

* Discharge increases further

* Loops work way across valley and downstream

* Load small and rounded grains

* Less turbulent; lower friction

* Old channels cut-off leaving ox-bows


The aim of this study is to investigate the physical features of the
Hoi Ha Wan. I...

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