GCSE Geography: Rivers - Middle Course Features

23rd August 2017

GCSE Geography Revision - Made Easy!

Everything you need to know about Lower Course Features of Rivers!


There are very specific characteristics attributed to each part of a river's course. A river is split up unto 3 parts - upper course, middle course and lower course. Each is defined by particular variations of features such as discharge speed, the width and depth of the river bed, the landscape and many more.


The middle course of a river is found on gently sloping land, and is typically identified by its meandering path - the sweeping side to side curves. The middle course has two main features - meanders and ox-bow lakes. These are both results of varying speeds and friction levels in the faster moving water, compared to the upper course.


  • Meanders - These are the sweeping curves a river is most known by, and these are found specifically in the middle course of the river. These lateral bends are formed by deposition and erosion. On the outside of the bend there is less friction for the water, and therefore it travels faster here and in turn causes more erosion to the outside of this bend. This creates a much more looping effect over time, rather the the original simple semi-circle-like bends. On the inside of the bend there is more friction, meaning the water moves slower. When river water moves slowly, it deposits any material it is carrying, and therefore does this on the inside of the bend. This furthers the shape of a lopping horseshoe.


  • Ox-bow Lakes - As the meanders continue to grow from the erosion/deposition combination over time, the meanders can become so loopy that they almost touch each other. During periods of bad weather and flooding, or simply given enough time to continually erode, the water can eventually push through the river bank between meanders, creating a new path for the river flow, and leaving the old meander separated from the river. This separated body of water is called an ox-bow lake.


Make sure to check out our music video or song on Middle Course Features of Rivers, remember the lyrics, and then take a go at our test!


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