GCSE Geography: Rivers and Deposition

22nd August 2017

GCSE Geography Revision - Made Easy!

All you need to know about Deposition in Rivers!

Deposition is the process by which a river drops the majority of the material it is transporting, including things like mud, sand, silt and rocks/pebbles, onto an area of land. These areas can include river banks, the river bed, or the river mouth. Deposition occurs when the river's speed slows down dramatically.

Deposition can take place due to a number of reasons:

  • A river enters a shallow part of its course.
  • A river becomes flooded and therefore decreases its speed.
  • Meanders in the river's path.
  • Changing landforms, such as a change from a steep drop to a slowly sloping drop, causing the water speed to decrease.
  • Particular characteristics associated with different stages of a river. For example, the widening of the lower stage of a river can decrease its speed and causing deposition to take place.

At the mouth of a river is one of the most common places that deposition will occur over its entire course. This is becuase at a river mouth, the river is at its slowest pace due to its wide width and its connection into the sea. This process can form deltas, which are a result of the river depositing material at a quicker rate than the sea can remove it.

There are three types of deltas:

  • Arcuate/Fan - The delta is arch shaped, and causes the river to split into many paths on its route to the sea creating the shape of a fan.
  • Cuspate - The delta is shaped like a spike or arrow, and juts out into the sea.
  • Bird's Foot - The delta has no conclusive shape and is often random, as it branches out with each part of a split river, creating an image similar to a bird's foot.

The Mississippi Delta is a great case study to use to illustrate the way deposition works, as well as the landforms it can create. 

Make sure to watch our Rivers: Deposition video, remember the lyrics to it, and have a go at completing the test!


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