Things To Know ABout Meandering Streams


Out of the three basic stream types, meandering streams are the most common. They’re found when a river or stream twists and turns, with these bends typically occurring at random intervals. 

There can be many bends in one small stretch of river depending on where exactly they are in terms of how large they are and how much water is running through them. 

Meandering streams have little to no current between the curves where the water slows down considerably before speeding up again when it reaches another curve.

Do you know what causes meandering streams to downcut and become incised meanders?

Meandering streams can appear as either a stream that continuously meanders or one that doesn’t. 

The same people who say that you can’t have a river without bends also say that you can’t have a river with meandering curves. I think it’s possible to have and not have meandering curves at the same time.

There are different ways to look at the situation of a stream with meandering curves. If one starts on an especially large bend, the water will flow around it and therefore follow no particular route, yet another reason why many argue that you cannot have a river without significant bends in its course.

Here are some more points discussed about Meandering Streams-

1. Locally Steep Gradients.

Most of the time, the slopes of these rivers are small, around 1 to 10 percent. But it does occur that one will come across a steeper gradient laid out over a distance.

2. Multiple channels.

Due to constant shifting and moving about, especially when there are strong currents flowing, these streams may split up into two or more channels. 

When this occurs, the one that is currently more dominant will be referred to as the main stem of the stream and all other tributaries will be considered secondary stems.

3. Riffles and Runs.

An area of fast water flow where the surface is interrupted by small waves is known as a riffle, while an area of slow water flow where the surface has fewer interruptions is known as a run. The difference between these two areas is velocity and how smooth the water is.

4. Sediment Deposition.

Rapids and other high energy areas can cause large amounts of sediment to be deposited on the stream bed, piling it up in certain places to form gravel bars that can get buried over time and turn into islands, or even entire banks along the stream bed of a meandering stream. 

These deposit sites often have complex channels and junction points that short outflows create. A powerful flushing event, such as a rainfall torrent, can carry sediment upstream and deposit it elsewhere.

5. Landslide-like features.

Because of shifting and moving water, meandering streams can carve out step-like features near their bends where the water pools and then flows over a flat surface before spilling again over the other side in an arc. 

This will often result in steeper than normal gradients on these surfaces as well as standing waves that produce hollows that are similar to the kind of landforms formed by flowing water when it hits a hard surface.

6. Stagnant pools.

Water can sometimes become stuck in a meandering stream, resulting in a stagnating pool where the water level doesn’t change with the flow of water through the stream. 

One often sees this along bends where water pools up and runs into another area of shallow water before flowing off over a sloping surface.

7. Spiked Streams.

Streams can spike up at small twists or curves and cause huge uplift in localized areas, especially when there are large amounts of sediment being carried along with it by the current that is moving rapidly over it. 

When this happens, islands, banks and other features can be created on the upstream side where they create temporary gaps in which periods of stability occur.

8. Waterfalls.

If the bends in a meandering stream get too severe, it will then flow down over ledges and step-like surfaces to create a waterfall or series of waterfalls. 

These are most common on small, fast-moving streams where large amounts of sediment become carried along by the current and then deposited, but can also occur on larger streams that are carrying large amounts of sediment as well.

9. Wave Cut platform and benches.

One will find these types of landforms at the base of waterfalls that have been cut into rock by them; they’re called wave cut platforms and benches respectively and are created due to the forceful energy being released by the falls. 

Wave Cut platforms are flat areas on grade that consist of a large amount of rounded rock debris where the force of the falling water has carved out a circular depression. 

The benches are lower-sloping, grassy areas made up of sediment deposited directly where the falls once were.


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