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Geography

River landforms

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Upper-course river features include steep-sided V-shaped valleys, interlocking spurs, rapids, waterfalls and gorges.

Middle-course river features include wider, shallower valleys, meanders, and oxbow lakes.

Lower-course river features include wide flat-bottomed valleys, floodplains and deltas.

Upper course features

Upper-course river features

Upper-course river features

As the river moves through the upper course it cuts downwards. The gradient here is steep and the river channel is narrow. Vertical erosion in this highland part of the river helps to create steep-sided V-shaped valleys, interlocking spurs, rapids, waterfalls and gorges.

Interlocking spurs on a tributary of the Yangtse

Interlocking spurs on a tributary of the Yangtse

  • As the river erodes the landscape in the upper course, it winds and bends to avoid areas of hard rock. This creates interlocking spurs, which look a bit like the interlocking parts of a zip.
  • When a river runs over alternating layers of hard and soft rock, rapids and waterfalls may form.
The formation of waterfalls and rapids

The formation of waterfalls and rapids

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