Stream Channel Characteristics

Waste Systems 

Improvement of Streams – Streamflow starts when water is added to the surface from precipitation, dissolving snow, and groundwater. Waste frameworks create to move water off the land proficiently. Streamflow starts as a moving sheet wash, which is a weak surface layer of water. The water descends the steepest slant and begins to erode the surface by making little rill channels. As the rills blend, develop and downcut into channels, more prominent channels structure. Fast erosion extends the divert upslope in a procedure called headward erosion. After some time, close by channels converge with littler tributaries joining a more significant trunk stream. The connected channels become what is known as a waste system. With proceeded with the erosion of the channels, seepage systems change after some time. 

Seepage Patterns – Drainages will, in general, create along zones where rock type and structure are most handily eroded. Therefore, different kinds of seepage designs created in a district and these waste examples mirror the structure of the stone. 

Dendritic waste examples are generally standard. They create on a land surface where the first stone is of uniform protection from erosion. 

Outspread seepage designs create encompassing regions of high geology where rise drops from a high focal region to encompassing low regions. 

Rectangular waste examples create where straight zones of shortcoming, for example, joints or blames, cause the streams to chop down along the frail regions in the stone. 

Trellis waste examples create where registrant rocks separate the scene 

Waste Basins – Each stream in a seepage framework depletes a specific region, called a seepage basin (likewise called a catchment or a watershed). In a separate waste basin, all water falling in the basin channels into a similar stream. A seepage partition isolates every waste basin from other waste basins. Seepage basins can run in size from a couple of km square, for little streams, to enormous territories, for example, the Mississippi River waste basin which covers about 40% of the adjacent United States 

Mainland Divides – Continents can be isolated into enormous waste basins that vacant into various sea basins. For instance: North America can be separated into a few basins west of the Rocky Mountains that void into the Pacific Ocean. Streams in the northern piece of North America void into the Arctic Ocean, and streams East of the Rocky Mountains void into the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico. Lines isolating these significant seepage basins are named Continental Divides. Such partitions typically run along high mountain peaks that shaped as of late enough that they have not been eroded. Along these lines, primary mainland partitions and the waste examples in the significant basins mirror the ongoing geologic history of the landmasses. 

Lasting Streams – Streams that stream all year are called perpetual streams. Their surface is at or underneath the water table. They happen in moist or mild atmospheres where there are adequate precipitation and low dissipation rates. Water levels fluctuate with the seasons, contingent upon the release. 

Transient Streams – Streams that just infrequently have water streaming are called ephemeral streams or dry washes. They are over the water table and happen in dry atmospheres with low measures of precipitation and high vanishing rates. The stream, for the most part, during uncommon blaze floods. 


A stream’s speed relies upon the position in the stream channel, anomalies in the stream channel brought about by safe stone, and stream angle. Contact eases backwater along channel edges. Contact is more prominent in more extensive, shallower streams and less in smaller, more profound streams. 

In straight channels, the most elevated speed is in the middle. In bent channels, The most extreme speed follows the outside bend where the channel is specially scoured and developed. Within the bend where the speed is lower, the deposition of residue happens. The most profound piece of the channel is known as the thalweg, which wanders with the bend of the stream. Stream around bends follows a winding way.

A stream can be either laminar, in which all water atoms travel along with comparable equal ways, or fierce, in which single particles take unpredictable ways. The stream is naturally violent. This is clamorous and inconsistent, with inexhaustible blending, twirling whirlpools, and some of the time high speed. The disturbance is brought about by stream blocks and shear in the water. Violent swirls scour the channel bed and can keep dregs in suspension longer than the laminar stream and, in this way, helps in the erosion of the stream base. 

Cross-Sectional Shape 

Cross-sectional shape fluctuates with the position in the stream, and release. The most profound piece of channel happens where the stream speed is the most elevated. Both width and profundity increment downstream because of release increments downstream. As release builds, the cross-sectional shape will change, with the stream getting further and more extensive. 

Erosion by Streams 

Streams erode because they can get rock parts and transport them to another area. The size of the parts that can be shipped relies upon the speed of the stream and whether the stream is laminar or fierce. The violent stream can keep pieces in suspension longer than the laminar stream. 

Streams can likewise erode by undermining their banks, bringing about mass-squandering forms like droops or slides. At the point when the undercut material falls into the stream, the pieces can be moved away by the stream. 

Streams can cut further into their channels if the district is inspired or if there is a neighbourhood change in base level. As they cut further into their channels, the stream evacuates the material that once made up the channel base and sides. 

Albeit moderate, as rocks move along the stream base and slam into each other, scraped spot of the stones happens, making littler pieces that would then be able to be shipped by the stream. 

At long last, since specific stones and minerals are effortlessly broken down in the water, disintegration likewise happens, bringing about broke up particles being shipped by the stream. 

Dregs Transport and Deposition 

The stone particles and broke down particles conveyed by the stream are the called the stream’s heap. Stream load is partitioned into three classes. 

Suspended load – particles that are conveyed alongside the water in the first piece of the streams. The size of these particles relies upon their thickness and the speed of the stream. Higher speed currents in the stream can convey bigger and denser particles. 

Bed Load – denser and coarser particles that stay on the bed of the stream more often than not, however, move by a procedure of saltation (hopping) because of crashes among particles, and fierce vortexes. Note that dregs can move between bedload and suspended burden as the speed of the stream changes. 

Broken download – particles that have been brought into the water by compound enduring of rocks. This heap is imperceptible because the particles are disintegrated in the water. The disintegrated load comprises for the most of HCO3-2 (bicarbonate particles), Ca+2, SO4-2, Cl-, Na+2, Mg+2, and K+. These particles are, in the end, conveyed to the seas and gave the seas their salty character. Streams that have a profound underground source, for the most part, have a higher broken-down burden than those whose source is on the Earth’s surface. 

The most extreme size of particles that can be conveyed as a suspended burden by the stream is called stream skill. The most extreme burden conveyed by the stream is called the stream limit—both ability and limit increment with expanding release. At high release, rock and cobble size material can move with the stream and are in this way shipping. At low release, the more significant parts become stranded, and just the littler, sand, residue, and mud estimated sections move. 

At the point when stream speed diminishes, the capability is decreased, and dregs drop out. The water arranges residue grain sizes. Sands are expelled from the rock, muds from both. Rock settle in channels. Sands drop out in close to channel situations. Sediments and muds wrap floodplains from channels. 

Changes Downstream 

As one moves along a stream the downstream way: 

Release increments, as noted above, because water is added to the stream from tributary streams and groundwater. 

As release expands, the width, profundity, and average speed of the stream increment. 

The slope of the stream, in any case, will diminish. 

It might appear to be counter to your perceptions that speed increments the downstream way since when one watches a mountain stream close to the headwaters where the slope is high, it seems to have a higher speed than a stream streaming along a delicate angle. Be that as it may, the water in the mountain stream is likely streaming in a hard way, because of the enormous stones and cobbles which make up the streambed. On the off chance that the stream is tempestuous, at that point, it takes more time for the water to venture to every part of the equivalent straight separation, and along these lines, the average speed is lower. Additionally, as one moves the downstream way,

The size of particles that constitute the bed heap of the stream will result in a general reduction. Even though the speed of the stream increments downstream, the bed load molecule size declines chiefly because the bigger particles are left in the bedload at higher rises and scraped areas of particles will, in general, decrease their size. 

The arrangement of the particles in the bedload will, in general, change along the stream as various bedrock is eroded and added to the stream’s heap. 

Long Profile 

A plot of height versus separation. Generally, shows a high inclination or slant, close to the wellspring of the stream and a delicate angle as the stream moves toward its mouth. The high profile is inward upward, as appeared by the diagram beneath.

Base Level 

The base level is characterized as the constraining level underneath which a stream cannot erode its channel. For streams that unfilled into the seas, the base level is ocean level. Neighbourhood base levels can happen where the stream meets a safe collection of rock, where a characteristic or fake dam obstructs further channel erosion, or where the stream exhausts into a lake. 

At the point when a characteristic or counterfeit dam hinders stream, the stream acclimates to the new base level by altering its extended profile. In the model here, the long profile above and underneath the dam is balanced. Erosion happens downstream from the dam (mainly if it is a natural dam and water can stream over the top). Only upstream from the dam, the speed of the stream is brought down with the goal that the deposition of dregs happens, making the slope become lower. The dam becomes the new base level for the piece of the stream upstream from the dam. 

As a rule, if base level is brought down, the stream cuts descending into its channel and erosion is quickened. On the off chance that base level is raised, the stream stores silt and straightens out its profile to the new base level. 

Valleys and Canyons 

A land far above base level is liable to downcutting by the stream. Quick downcutting makes an eroded trough, which can turn out to be either a valley or gorge. A valley has tenderly slanting sidewalls that show a V-shape in cross-area. A Canyon has soak sidewalls that structure precipices. Regardless of whether or valley or gulch is shaped relies upon the rater of erosion and quality of the stones. When all is said in done, slow downcutting and frail, effectively erodable rocks bring about valleys, and quick downcutting in more grounded rocks brings about gullies. 

Since geologic procedures stack solid and frail rocks, such stratigraphic variety frequently yields a stair-step profile of the ravine dividers, as found in the Grand Canyon. Solid rocks yield vertical bluffs, though feeble rocks produce all the more tenderly slanted gorge dividers. 

Dynamic downcutting flushes dregs out of channels. Only after the dregs are flushed, we can facilitate downcutting happen—Valleys store silt when base level is raised. 


Rapids are hard water with a harsh surface. Rapids happen where the stream inclination unexpectedly increments, where the stream streams over huge clasts in the base of the stream, or where there is a sudden narrowing of the channel. The abrupt change in slope may happen where a functioning flaw crosses the stream channel. Large clasts might be moved into the stream by a tributary stream bringing about rapids where the two streams join. Unexpected narrowing of the stream may happen if the stream experiences solid stone that is not effortlessly dependent upon erosion. 


Waterfalls are transitory base levels brought about by substantial erosion safe rocks. After arriving at the solid stone, the stream at that point falls or free tumbles down the precarious slant to shape waterfalls. Since the pace of stream increments on this quick change in slope, erosion happens at the base of the waterfall where a dive pool structures. This can start quick erosion at the base, bringing about undermining of the bluff that caused the waterfall. When undermining happens, the precipice gets subject to rockfalls or slides. These outcomes in the waterfall are withdrawing upstream and the stream, in the long run, dissolving through the bluff to expel the waterfall. 

Niagara Falls in New York is a genuine model. Lake Erie drops 55 m streaming toward Lake Ontario. A dolostone caprock is safe, and the hidden shale erodes—squares of unsupported dolostone breakdown and fall. 

Niagara Falls persistently erodes south toward Lake Erie. In brief, preoccupation with the water that streams over the American Falls segment uncovered large squares of rock. The pace of the southward retreat of Niagara Falls is directly 0.5 m/yr. In the end, the falls will arrive at Lake Erie, and when that happens, Lake Erie will deplete. 

Channel Patterns 

Straight Channels – Straight stream channels are uncommon. Where they do happen, the channel is generally constrained by a direct zone of shortcoming in the first stone, similar to say the least or joint framework. 

Indeed, even in straight divert portions of water streams in a crooked manner, with the most profound piece of the channel changing from close to one bank to approach the other. Speed is most elevated in the zone overlying the most profound piece of the stream. In these regions, the residue is moved promptly, bringing about pools. Where the speed of the stream is low, dregs are kept to shape bars. 

The bank nearest to the zone of most elevated speed is generally eroded and brings about a cut bank. 

Wandering Channels – Because of the speed structure of a stream, and particularly in streams streaming over low slopes with effectively eroded banks, straight channels will inevitably erode into wandering channels. Erosion will occur on the external pieces of the wander twists, where the speed of the stream is most noteworthy. Silt deposition will happen along with the inward wander twists where the speed is low. Such deposition of dregs brings about open bars, called point bars. Since wandering streams are constantly dissolving on the external wander twists and storing dregs along with the inward wander twists, wandering stream channels will, in general, relocate to and fro over their flood plain. 

If erosion outwardly wander twists keeps on occurring, in the long run, a wander twist can get cut off from the remainder of the stream. At the point when this happens, the cutoff wanders twist, since it is as yet a downturn, will gather water and structure a kind of lake called an oxbow lake. 

Meshed Channels – In streams having factor release exceptionally and effectively eroded banks, dregs get kept to frame bars and islands that are uncovered during times of low release. In such a stream, the water streams in a plaited design around the islands and bars, partitioning and rejoining as it streams downstream. Such a channel is named a meshed channel. During times of great release, the whole stream channel may contain water, and the islands are secured to become submerged bars. During such high release, a portion of the islands could erode, however, the silt would be re-saved as the release diminishes, framing new islands or submerged bars. Islands may get impervious to erosion on the off chance that they become possessed by vegetation.

Stream Deposits 

Abrupt changes in speed can bring about deposition by streams. Inside a stream, we have seen that the speed differs with the position, and if silt gets moved to the lower speed some portion of the stream, the residue will leave suspension and be kept. Other unexpected changes in speed that influence the entire stream can likewise happen. For instance, if the release is out of nowhere expanded, as it may be during a flood, the stream will overflow its banks and stream onto the floodplain where the speed will, at that point, abruptly decline. These outcomes in the deposition of such highlights as levees and floodplains. If the slope of the stream out of nowhere changes by exhausting into a level stunning basin, a sea basin, or a lake, the speed of the stream will unexpectedly diminish, bringing about the deposition of residue that can never again be moved. This can bring about the deposition of such highlights as alluvial fans and deltas. 

Floodplains and Levees – As a stream overflows its banks during a flood, the speed of the flood will initially be high. However, it will out of nowhere decline as the water streams out over the delicate inclination of the floodplain. On account of the unexpected decline in speed, the coarser-grained suspended dregs will be kept along the riverbank, in the long run developing a natural levee. Natural levees furnish some assurance from flooding because with each flood, the levee is fabricated higher, and in this way, the release must be higher for the ensuing flood to happen. (Note that the levees we observe along the Mississippi River here in New Orleans are not regular levees, yet human-made levees, worked to shield the floodplain from floods. The regular levees do shape the high ground as confirm by the flooding that happened because of levee ruptures during Hurricane Katrina). 

Porches – Terraces are uncovered previous floodplain stores that outcome when the stream starts down cutting into its flood plain (this is generally brought about by provincial elevate or by bringing down the regional base level, for example, a drop in ocean level). 

Alluvial Fans – When a lofty mountain stream enters a level valley, there is an unexpected reduction in inclination and speed. Dregs moved in the stream will unexpectedly become kept along the valley dividers in an alluvial fan. As the speed of the mountain stream eases back, it gets gagged with dregs and separates into various distributary channels. 

Deltas – When a stream enters a stationary waterway, for example, a lake or sea, again, there is an unexpected decline in speed and the stream stores its dregs in a store called a delta. Deltas assemble outward from the coastline. However, they will possibly endure if the sea currents are not sufficiently able to evacuate the silt.

As the speed of a stream diminishes on entering the delta, the stream gets gagged with residue and conditions become positive for those of a plaited stream channel, yet as opposed to twisting, the stream breaks into numerous littler streams called distributary streams. 

In the course of the most recent 1,000 years, the vast majority of the land that makes up southern Louisiana has been worked by the Mississippi River, saving residue to frame delta flaps. These delta flaps have moved to and fro through time as the River’s course changed because of changes in ocean level and the River attempting to keep up the briefest and steepest way to the Gulf of Mexico


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Cite/Link to This Article

  • "Stream Channel Characteristics". Geography Revision. Accessed on April 19, 2021.

  • "Stream Channel Characteristics". Geography Revision, Accessed 19 April, 2021.

  • Stream Channel Characteristics. Geography Revision. Retrieved from