River Severn | River Thames
Our River Severn pages have many photos of the features of rivers. Follow ths link
As a river flows, the force of its moving water washes away loose soil and pieces of rock. In this way the river cuts its own channel in the ground. The process of wearing away rocks is called erosion.
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A gorge is a steep-sided river valley which is very narrow and deep.
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A meander is a bend in a river.
Meanders normally occur in the middle and lower courses where the water is moving more slowly. The river carves out S-shaped bends.
Follow this link to read about and see meanders on the River Severn
Find out more about ox-bow lakes on our River Severn pages
At its mouth, the river flows into another body of water. The mouth may be where the river meets the sea, a lake or a larger waterway. Most rivers flow out into the sea, and this is where they end their journey.
Mouth of the River Severn
Mouth of the River Thames
If a river has a wide mouth, this is called an estuary. An estuary has a mixture of salty and fresh water. The fresh water from the river extends out into the sea. Some of the salty water from the sea travels up the river mouth. This mixture of salt and fresh water is called brackish water.
The river carries a lot of sediment as it travels from its source to its mouth. When the fresh water from the river meets the salty water from the sea, the river drops its sediment. Most is then washed away by the sea, the river and the tides.
Click here to find out more about the Thames Barrier
A dam is a barrier (wall) of earth, concrete or rock built across a river to restrict the flow of water.
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A weir is an artificial wall built across a river in order to make the river deeper.
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A lock and weir system is needed where the river bed is steep and the water flows too quickly.
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The floodplain is the flat land of the river valley close to the river banks. The floodplain is usually found in the lower course of a river. It is a fertile area of land, used for agriculture and growing crops.
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River Severn | River Thames
Rivers carry water and nutrients to areas all around the earth. They play a very important part in the water cycle, acting as drainage channels for surface water. Rivers drain nearly 75% of the earth's land surface.
Rivers provide excellent habitat and food for many of the earth's organisms.
Many rare plants and trees grow by rivers. Ducks, voles, otters and beavers make their homes on the river banks. Reeds and other plants like bulrushes grow along the river banks.
Other animals use the river for food and drink. Birds such as kingfishers eat small fish from the river. In Africa, animals such as antelopes, lions and elephants go to rivers for water to drink. Other animals such as bears catch fish from rivers.
River deltas have many different species of wildlife. Insects, mammals and birds use the delta for their homes and for food.
Rivers provide travel routes for exploration, commerce and recreation.
River valleys and plains provide fertile soils. Farmers in dry regions irrigate their cropland using water carried by irrigation ditches from nearby rivers.
Rivers are an important energy source. During the early industrial era, mills, shops, and factories were built near fast-flowing rivers where water could be used to power machines. Today steep rivers are still used to power hydroelectric plants and their water turbines.
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