The Physical Environment
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Chapter 18
Fluvial Systems

river meander

"Wild rivers are Earth's renegades, defying gravity, dancing to their own tunes, resisting the authority of humans, always chipping away, and eventually always winning."

       ~ Richard Bangs, River Gods ~

Fluvial processes are those associated with the work of streams. Among all the various land forming agents, the work of running water is the most ubiquitous. Nearly every part of the Earth has seen, at sometime in its geologic past, the imprint of fluvial processes.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this chapter you should be able to:

  • Describe the features of a drainage basin.
  • Explain how the features of a drainage basin control runoff and discharge from streams in it.
  • Explain how drainage patterns within a drainage basin form.
  • Describe the factors that control and explain the processes of fluvial erosion, transportation, and deposition.
  • Describe channel geometry and explain its role in stream flow.
  • Describe to components of a hydrograph and explain the controlling factors over its shape.
    Explain how floods occur.
  • Compare and contrast the several types of deltas.
  • Identify fluvial landforms from a topographic map.
  • Describe the processes and feature formed from fluvial processes in dry regions.
  • Describe the impact of climate change on fluvial processes and landforms.


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For Citation: Ritter, Michael E. The Physical Environment: an Introduction to Physical Geography.
Date visited.

Michael Ritter (
Last revised 6/5/12

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