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Shape of a River - Geomorphology
Patterns

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Streams express their energy by the formation of meanders and by adjusting their slope. This fact is most obvious where streams flow over beds of unconsolidated sediment. Streambeds composed largely of bedrock prevent or inhibit the expression of these features.

Meanders develop according to fairly consistent patterns, regardless of stream size. Bends form, alternating right to left, with a radius about two to four times stream width. Vary the scale, and an aerial photograph of a small creek would resemble the pattern of a large river.

As streams continue to cut against the outside of the stream bank, they accentuate the bend. Many meanders eventually break through, allowing the flow to shortcut the meander. The abandoned meander is called an oxbow.

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Rivers follow a meander pattern

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Why streams meander

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Meander migration defines flood plains

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Introduction
Flow
Shape
Description
Variables
Bankfull flows
Classification
Sediment
Patterns
Slope
Habitat
Change
Consequences
Stories
Connections
Quality
Life
Summary
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